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Thanks to an alert school employee who saw something and said something, and social media, an 18-year-old who was in possession of a realistic-looking fake gun on a private school campus was arrested within 2.5 hours of being spotted in Lakeland.
Adrian Araujo-Garcia of Lakeland went to the Resurrection Catholic Church and private school on Old Hwy 37 in Lakeland around 12:15 p.m. this afternoon, Wednesday, November 1, 2023, and was seen by a school employee who was on her lunch break in the school parking lot. The employee saw him at the front of the church, and then saw him walk to a silver Honda Civic in the parking lot. The employee saw Araujo-Garcia open the door and retrieve a silver handgun, appearing to insert a magazine into it. He got into the car and it left the parking lot.
The employee immediately called 911 and told another employee to put the school on lockdown. Descriptions of the suspect and vehicle, as well as video surveillance images of both, were sent out to the media and posted on PCSO social media accounts. Adrian himself saw the photos on social media, and called the Sheriff's Office while deputies were en route to the home where the car was registered (one of his relatives).
Adrian told deputies that he went to the church to pray, and that when he got into the car, he saw the silver-colored toy gun in the backseat and retrieved it. He said that it appeared to be "jammed" so he picked it up and got into the front seat with it and began manipulating it to "clear the jam" and fired it into the front floorboard.
Deputies retrieved the gun, a realistic looking plastic replica of a Glock model 18 handgun, with a white slide and removable magazine, which from a distance is nearly indistinguishable from a real firearm. A photo of the gun is below.
“I thank the staff and leadership of the Resurrection Catholic Church school for making sure there is a school resource deputy on campus to help protect their students and faculty from harm. I also sincerely appreciate the person who let us know they saw who they believed was a man in the parking lot with a gun. Our deputy immediately responded and there was a quick and thorough response from Lakeland Police Department officers and Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies. There was a deputy there in seconds as opposed to a 911 call and response that can take minutes. We were able to identify the suspect within 90 minutes and we had him in custody within 2 ½ hours. We cannot emphasize enough to people how important it is that if they see something, or hear something, to say something to law enforcement so we can investigate and keep people safe.” - Grady Judd, Sheriff
Adrian Araujo-Garcia was arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct (M2) and Disturbing/Interrupting School Function (M2).