Riviera Beach teen caught with gun at school

By Al Pefley  email

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Riviera Beach Police arrested a student at an alternative school for bringing a gun on campus.  Police say they responded to the Drop Back in Academy on West 20th Street Monday, after someone left an anonymous note on a teacher's desk that one of the students had a gun.

Officers noticed 18-year-old Brandon Graham had a bulge in his pocket, and he agreed to be searched and they found a loaded handgun in his pocket.

This academy run by a group called Alternatives Unlimited uses space at a Catholic church.

Luckily, police caught this in time.  There was no shooting.

But one parent says the people in charge of this academy should've notified parents about what happened. Police say Graham had a loaded .25 caliber handgun in his pocket at the Drop Back In Academy, a school for students who have left public school and are trying to get a high school diploma.

"I feel the security has to be beefed up so that every precaution is taken that this doesn't happen again," said Carla Epps, who has a daughter at the academy.

She says the school needs metal detectors.  Epps had no idea another student was caught at school with a loaded handgun until we told her.

"I'm a little concerned because had I not seen [the news media] here and said let me get out of my car and see what the problem is, I would have not known what took place yesterday [Monday]," Epps said.

She feels the school should've notified parents.  "I'm not okay with that. And I will take an extra step into finding out why it wasn't done," Epps said.

The people who run the academy declined to comment.  A catholic church allows them to use one the classrooms in an educational building on campus, and the pastor there came outside to see us.

"I'm asking you to leave the premises," said Rev. Arthur Obin, pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

"What changes if any are you gonna make to security to stop this from happening again? What kind of changes can we make?

"I don't know; we had a parent saying you should have the kids going through a metal detector before they enter the classroom. Give me a break. That's what she said, 'Give me a break.'"

Epps told us she's concerned about security at this academy, but not worried enough to pull her daughter out of the school yet.

Why exactly this teen had a loaded handgun at school is not clear.  It had 8 bullets in it.  Police say he refused to give them a statement when he was arrested.  Graham was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a weapon on school property.