• 9 Investigates the delay in response to report of a student with gun

    By: Karla Ray


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates has learned it took a Volusia County School Resource Deputy more than ten minutes to respond to a report of a student with a gun.

    The incident at New Smyrna Beach High School prompted a code red lockdown in January.  The gun in the case turned out to be an airsoft weapon, but according to deputies, the student who reportedly had the weapon told other students it was real.

    The just-released internal investigation shows Volusia Deputy Tony Abato called another agency for backup, and didn’t go after the teen until those officers arrived to the scene.


    According to the internal investigation, there was an eleven-minute delay between when Abato was notified about the possible weapon and when the student suspected of carrying it was taken in to custody.

    According to the report, student Keevin Jelks is a known gang member with a criminal history dating back at least five years.  

    Abato told school administrators during the incident that he could not immediately approach Jelks because he was busy with a different student who was being committed under the state’s Baker Act.

    When New Smyrna Beach Police officers showed up to the school, nobody had made contact with the student.  When questioned why he didn’t immediately address the possible weapon on campus, Abato stated, “I was gonna wait for New Smyrna because there was no immediate threat.’

    Sheriff Mike Chitwood determined Abato neglected his duties and put people in danger due to his failure to act.  A spokesperson told 9 Investigates Tuesday that Chitwood was unavailable for comment because the report spoke for itself.

    Abato has now been moved to a civilian position with the Sheriff’s Office after more than six years as a School Resource Deputy.

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