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TEASED BOY `SNAPPED,’ THEN SHOT

SHARE TEASED BOY `SNAPPED,’ THEN SHOT

An 11-year-old boy who had been harassed by three bullies at a school bus stop for months "just snapped" and fired two shots at his tormentors with a handgun he pulled from his book bag, police said.

"`I'm tired of them teasing me and I was going to take care of it when the time came,"' police officer Patrick Ferguson quoted the fifth-grader as saying after the shooting.The .32-caliber bullets missed the intended victims and seven other children waiting at the bus stop about 10 feet away. The boy who fired the shots was in custody Saturday facing charges of aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

Ferguson said the 11-year-old boy told authorities he was tired of being bullied every morning by the three other youths who reportedly threw rocks at him, stole his comb and called his mother bad names.

All four boys boarded the bus after the shooting at about 7 a.m. Thursday morning, but although children were talking about the incident, the bus driver did not believe the story.

Ferguson said parents contacted the school before the bus arrived and it was met by Miles Elementary School Principal Anthony Scolaro, who found the weapon in the fifth- grader's pencil box.

"It is very unusual to find a child this age with a gun," Scolaro said. "We get reports of knives, but nine times out of 10 we find no knife. The weapons we most usually see are rubber bands and paper clips."

A juvenile court hearing was held for the youth Friday, but details were not released because he is a minor. The boy has been suspended from school for 10 days and was charged with aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon. He is being held in the W.T. Edwards Juvenile Detention Center.

"This particular kid is not a problem child," Ferguson said. "Apparently, he just had had enough and snapped."

Ferguson said the fifth-grader had been squabbling and fighting with the other three boys, who were described as neighborhood bullies by other children at the bus stop, for months.

The 11-year-old said he had taken the handgun from his stepfather's closet and hid it in his bedroom.

Under a Florida law that recently went into effect, a gun owner faces a misdemeanor charge and as much as 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if a minor points a gun at someone or displays it in public.

The boy's mother or stepfather have not been charged, Ferguson said.