LAKE MARY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It was an unimaginable morning for students, staff, and parents at Seminole State College. The entire Sanford-Lake Mary campus was placed on lockdown for nearly two hours-- no one in or out -- because of a safety concern.
Authorities said an armed student, 27-year-old Derrick Anderson, broke down in front of his teacher and told him he wanted to “end his life” on school grounds. During the lockdown, no one -- including students or parents -- knew what was going on.
“It was crazy! I woke up this morning, I was literally like 10 minutes from the campus, and my best friend called me and she was like 'No! No, don’t come in here! They’re not letting anybody come in here,'” one of the students, Cheyenne Browning, told us as she sat across the street waiting to go on campus.
“My friends aren’t responding at all, so I don’t know, so I have no idea what’s going on,” stated another student Christina Bradshaw.
The campus lockdown started around 8:30 a.m. after reports of a student caught with a gun.
“He [the student] showed up, and he was acting a little erratic. A teacher approached him and asked him what was wrong,” said the spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Kim Cannaday.
The quick thinking of Anderson’s teacher, who does not want to be named, made sure the student didn't take his life, and no one else was hurt. Deputies said that teacher is a hero, risking his life to save others after Anderson said he wanted to harm himself.
“He did indicate to the teacher that he was experiencing some emotional issues and had thoughts of killing himself,” said Cannaday. “So there was a brief exchange, actually a hug, when the teacher realized there was a weapon in his pocket. It was a small handgun. So the teacher was able to get the gun out of his pocket and he disabled the handgun and tossed the pieces to the woods.”
That’s when deputies say the student took off and officers started the manhunt, surrounded the college.
“The last thing they said is that the teachers are trying to keep teaching their class and they’re just trying to stay calm,” said the Seminole State College student Christina Bradshaw.
But it was terrifying a grandmother of a student was so distraught she couldn't show her face.
“It’s my granddaughter, and I raised her and I’m scared! I mean, I wish I would’ve known,” the grandmother told us as she fought back tears. “I mean, it was just seconds before I dropped her off.”
While all of that was going on deputies said Anderson got on his scooter, traveled about a half mile from campus to the Seminole County Jail where he went inside and turned himself in.
Anderson is charged with having a firearm on school property and possessing a stolen gun. The college said the teacher credited with grabbing the gun from the student doesn’t want any publicity and is just glad no one got hurt.
“The teacher was an absolute hero in this situation,” said Cannaday. “The fact that he was alert enough to realize that something was a-miss here, is kudos to him on that count. And then to go above and beyond and put himself in harms way to protect all the other students on campus, I say is a hero.”