Several employees at Southeastern University in Lakeland are protecting their students from the unthinkable – a mass shooting on campus.

  • Employees at Southeastern in Lakeland received gun training
  • Instruction came from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office
  • Day was part of the Sheriff’s Sentinel Program

Seven employees are training with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to become special deputies and carry concealed firearms at the school.

It’s part of the Sheriff’s Sentinel Program, the first of its kind in Florida.

The goal is to prevent a mass shooting like the one that happened at Virginia Tech.

“We pray it will never happen,” said Chris Owens, vice president of student development at Southeastern University. “We don’t want it to happen, but if it does, we will be fully prepared to respond accordingly.”

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “And we want to stop a bad guy with a gun before they get into the campus and before they hurt student or staff. We're serious about it.”

It is illegal to carry concealed or open firearms on college campuses in Florida.

But once the employees at Southeastern complete background tests and 100 hours of training, they can be sworn in as special deputies.

They will then be allowed to carry weapons at the school.

“We don't ever want the conflict, but if you show up on campus with a gun, we're going to shoot you graveyard-dead if you're trying to hurt our kids,” said Sheriff Judd. “They will blend into the college campus. They won't create any angst or excitement, but should an emergency occur they will be like Superman on the scene.”

The first seven employees are expected to graduate from the Sheriff’s Sentinel program at the end of May.