Loaded gun, knives found in Florida teacher’s backpack, police say

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A fourth grade teacher at Starkey Elementary School was arrested on Monday at 1 p.m.

The 49-year-old is accused of having a gun and two knives in her backpack. According to an arrest affidavit, the bag was also in the classroom where children were present.

Erica Kennedy is a parent of two children who attend Starkey Elementary School in Seminole and was stunned to learn the news.

“Shock, absolute shock,” Erica told WFLA. “Almost disbelief. I can’t believe something like that would happen at this school. I almost think they’re going to have to start checking teacher’s bags, or maybe even have a metal detector to set something off.”

According to the school district, Betty Soto was acting suspcious, carrying her backpack everywhere she went – guarding it closely.

The principal noticed the “strange” behavior and notified the authorities.

Police officers with Pinellas County Schools and deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrived on campus after being alerted by the principal. Law enforcement officers say they interviewed Soto and found the weapons in her backpack.

Soto has been with the district with three years.

According to the school distrcit, Soto will not return to Starkey Elementary this year.

Pinellas County Schools will await the results of the court case and take appropriate disciplinary action. 

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