Florida

A teen brought a stolen, loaded gun to school. He was sentenced as an adult.

A Florida Keys teen who stole a handgun and brought it to school loaded will serve jail time and has been banned from all school campuses.

Matthew Whitener Jr, 16, of Summerland Key, on Thursday pleaded no contest to three felonies: possession of a weapon on school property, burglary of a vehicle and grand theft of a firearm.

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones sentenced Whitener as an adult, handing down 364 days in the county jail plus four years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Whitener must also undergo a psychological evaluation.

School district officials approved of the case’s resolution, said Larry Kahn, the spokesman for the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office.

On April 12, a Key West police officer assigned to Key West High School found a Walther PK380 with a bullet in the chamber inside Whitener’s backpack.

Whitener said he was “holding the gun for someone,” but later changed his story when police said they would run the gun’s serial number to see if it had been stolen.

The teen then admitted he had stolen it from a car on Summerland Key, an island about 20 miles outside of Key West.

He told the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies he had gone for a bicycle ride in the middle of the night and decided to check unlocked cars for loose change and other items.

He found the gun in “the fourth or fifth car” he checked.

The handgun’s owner reported it missing on April 13 and told deputies he usually leaves it on his nightstand but had taken it with him recently and left it in the car.

He said he locks his car but his daughter had gone into it the night before it was stolen to get a book and had apparently left it unlocked.

Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist represented the state.

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Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.
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