Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018


The Buzz 2/22/18

Beyond Serious Last Friday, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan called a press conference to discuss the Parkland, Fla. school shooting and how his office was handling a “rash” of social media posts threatening similar violence in Escambia County.

He said individuals had posted messages on Facebook that they were going to shoot up Escambia High School, Pine Forest High School and Pensacola State College.

“Our officers took that information, worked it for several hours through the night, and managed to identify Mr. Gabriel Brooks Harvell,” said the sheriff. “We found that there was also an outstanding warrant for Mr. Harvell for stalking, and so he was taken into custody.”

Sheriff Morgan added, “In Escambia County, we are going to take any insinuation or threat involving our school system and our children beyond serious. If you are stupid enough—and I use that word ‘stupid’—to be engaged in this sort of communication, you can expect the full weight of the Escambia Sheriff’s office to be visited upon you.”

The Pensacola Police had received information from a parent of a Workman Middle School student that another student on social media shared an image that alluded to school shootings. Its investigation led to the arrest of a 13-year-old male for disruption of a school function.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said his agency was working closely with the sheriff’s office, as well as the city of Pensacola, providing any legal advice or assistance they may need to investigate any of these possible allegations if they come forward.

“As part of this, anybody that is arrested will be treated very seriously,” he said. “We will charge anybody who is charged as an adult, with the most serious offenses that are available, and we’ll prosecute vigorously and seek the maximum punishment that’s available.”

School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas that the Parkland shooting was “unacceptable.”

“What has happened in our school the last couple of weeks, we’ve had more weapons found this school year than we’ve found in a couple of years—that’s unacceptable,” he said. “If you bring a weapon to school, you’re going to face the most serious consequences that I can issue as superintendent, and I will be referring those students to law enforcement. School is not a place for a student to bring a weapon.”

The superintendent asked parents to help keep guns out of the public schools. He said, “If you have guns in your home, make sure your child does not have the combination to the safe. If they know the combination, change it. If they know where the key is hidden, re-hide the key. And if you think your students do not have access to weapons, you need to verify that.”

Thomas continued, “There is so much chatter on social media. I have to believe that if the good parents in our community saw what their students were posting in pictures and what they were putting in print, they would be alarmed. Get involved with your student. I’m calling on the entire community.  If you see something, say something.”

He said that he would revisit the district’s security protocol, pointing out a security analysis had been done and a plan created in 2013 after the shooting at the Shady Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“I’m not going to get into details here because I don’t want to publicize all the things we’re going to add to enhance school security, but you can know that we see this is as an urgent matter,” said Thomas. “We have been making progress by hardening our schools. Many more schools are hardened today than they were five years ago. We know we still have work to do.”

He added, “There are other things we can do on a short-term basis that can begin to happen next week. We will be assembling all of our leadership team in the next few days, where we will begin to outline what we will begin to do that’s on that short-term basis and explain how we all work together to make our campuses as safe as possible.”

Gun at Ransom On Feb. 13, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Ransom Middle School student for allegedly bringing a loaded Sterling 25 automatic pistol to school. Ashton B. Ferguson-Resmondo, age 13, faces charges of possession of a concealed weapon, brandishing a firearm on school grounds and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, which are third-degree felonies.

Based on an anonymous tip, the school resource officer intercepted the student on the bus ramp as he was leaving school. Ferguson-Resmondo was escorted off the bus. He had the pistol in the waistband of his pants. A search of his backpack found three prescription pills and a razor knife.

According to the arrest report, Ferguson-Resmondo on the previous day had turned over two pocketknives and two 25 auto-rounds of ammunition to a teacher under the district’s Safe Harbor policy.

The Safe Harbor policy states in the Student Handbook: “If a student who is in possession of an item of contraband (such as a pocket knife, drugs, etc.) voluntarily surrenders the item as soon as he/she realizes that it is in his/her possession to a responsible staff member, then the student may be eligible for mitigation, in whole or part, of the penalty for possessing the item as appropriate under the circumstances. To qualify for this provision, such surrender must occur prior to the beginning of any investigation or search that might uncover the item.”

LeaP Nominations The Pensacola Chamber Foundation is accepting nominations for the Leadership Pensacola (LeaP) Class of 2019. The deadline to submit is Friday, March 2. Self-nominations are accepted. To submit a nomination, visit

LeaP aims to develop community-minded leaders during its 10-month program. LeaP is designed to help participants acquire an understanding of the issues facing the Pensacola area and to gain the leadership skills necessary to resolve them. Candidates sought come from a cross-section of the community—people from different political, career, educational, social and cultural backgrounds.

Individuals accepted into LeaP will participate in daylong retreats, educational seminars, and a community project for which the class uses its resources and talents to enhance the Greater Pensacola region.  For additional information about LeaP, contact Caitlin Okrzesik, Leadership Pensacola Program Specialist, at

Convention Center Analysis A new study shows that a convention/conference center in combination with an indoor sports facility could generate as much as $90 million revenue for the local economy and create 560-660 jobs.

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