AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
Earlier this month, a high school math teacher and former US Marine sparked controversy when he allegedly joked about killing students during a school lockdown.
The former Marine detailed how he would use an IED and nail bomb to kill a thousand students, according to a risk protection order seen by CNN.
Concerned parents contacted the school and the school called the police, which ultimately ordered a risk protection order to take the teacher into custody.
The high school placed the teacher on administrative leave. The teacher is due in court on August 30.
A Florida high school teacher has been put on administrative leave after allegedly telling students he, "would be the best school shooter," during a lockdown drill intended to prepare high schoolers for mass shooting scenarios. The off-color comment was reportedly made worse when the former US Marine bragged that he would have a "1,000-person body count" in his fictional shooting scenario.
The controversy started earlier this month when Lakeland Senior High School math teacher Keith Cook allegedly made the comment during an all-school lockdown. Cook had taught at the school for five years, according to The Ledger, and the comments came on the heels of two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that collectively left 29 people dead.
According to The Ledger, a concerned student told their parents about Cook's comments. The parent then called an LHS guidance counselor who told the principal. The school principal then decided to call the local police.
Not long after the alleged incident occurred, school officials sent a voicemail to parents.
"Following Friday's lockdown drill, a teacher described hypothetical acts of violence against the school and these comments were upsetting students," the voicemail said, according to Fox 13.
Those hypothetical acts allegedly included detailed descriptions of an improvised explosive device and a nail bomb. The teacher also allegedly told students he would plant the IEDs and fire his weapon, "wait for everyone to hide, then press a button and boom —everyone would die," according to a Polk County risk protection order viewed by CNN. (A risk protection order lets police conduct an investigation into someone deemed dangerous and restrict their firearm use without arresting them.) Sixteen students provided affidavits of the incident.
Cook says it was all a joke.
Lakeland Senior High School did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. In a statement sent to Insider, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd confirmed Cook had been placed on administrative leave.
"We are cooperating fully with the law enforcement investigation, as well as conducting our own internal investigation. The employee remains on leave while we gather the facts of the case," Byrd wrote. "Parents and students should be assured that we take any potential threat against our students and schools seriously. Student safety is — and always will be — paramount within our school district."
In an interview with Fox 13, one of Cook's former students, Kaleb Better, said the comments caught him completely off guard.
"That honestly blows my mind," Better told Fox 13. "My heart is racing right now. I would've never expected Mr. Cook to say something like that."
As part of the risk protection order, local police searched Cook's home for firearms but did not find any, according to NBC Miami.
Cook was forcibly committed to a mental evaluation, according to Bay News 9, and is set to appear in a Florida court on August 30.
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