VBHS student charged after bringing loaded gun to school


This article was changed to say the gun was found in the student’s pocket. 

VERO BEACH — A Vero Beach High School senior was jailed Friday after school officials and deputies found a loaded gun in her front pants pocket, authorities said. School District of Indian River County officials received a tip that the pupil might have a weapon.

“We are thankful for the individual who came forward with the initial report, and for our school resource deputies and other Indian River County Sheriff officers for responding promptly,” school officials said in a statement. “As a reminder, we have zero tolerance for weapons on our campuses and those in violation will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted accordingly.”

Ha Lecia Mckenzie

Ha Lecia Mckenzie, 18, of the 4600 block of 34th Avenue, Gifford, was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, sheriff’s officials said. Sheriff’s officials said more charges are pending against Mckenzie, who deputies described as a documented gang member.

Mckenzie was held Friday at the Indian River County Jail without bond, records show.

“I’m proud of our school resource team who work hard every day to keep our students, teachers, and faculty safe,” sheriff Eric Flowers said in a statement. “I am thankful to the students and teachers who report suspicious behavior to our deputies. We take each tip seriously and will continue to have ongoing communication with the school district.”

The incident happened in the morning at the main campus located in the 1700 block of 16th Street, Vero Beach. After receiving the tip, school officials and school resource officers questioned Mckenzie and then discovered the small caliber handgun in her pocket, officials said.

School officials said the woman was detained by deputies and will not return as a student at the campus.

There was no threat to the school or an individual, officials said. However, the event prompted additional law enforcement units to be stationed at the campus.

“It is unfortunate when an event like this occurs, however, we are confident in the continued actions of our outstanding School District of Indian River County students who are standing up and reporting behavior that makes them uncomfortable,” school officials said in a statement. “Our students have made it clear that they will not tolerate weapons, threats, or overall violence in our district.”

The incident did not cause any disruptions on campus, school officials said.

“Please continue to remind your students that if they see or hear something that makes them uncomfortable to report their concern to a trusted adult or use the FortifyFL app for anonymous reporting,” school officials said. 


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