SEMINOLE, Fla. — A fourth-grade Starkey Elementary School teacher was arrested on Monday after she brought a loaded gun and two knives into her classroom, according to Pinellas County Schools Police.

  • Betty Soto, 49, charged after incident
  • School staff had noticed suspicious behavior
  • Soto was held under $500 bond

Betty Soto, 49, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of carrying a concealed weapon.

"This teacher did have a concealed weapons permit," said district spokeswoman Lisa Wolf-Chason. "Unfortunately, even if you have a concealed carry, you're still not allowed to bring that weapon onto a school board property."

The teacher had a Glock 9-mm handgun loaded with seven rounds hidden in her backpack, which was exposed when Soto left that backpack in her classroom that had students inside, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police said they also found a two-inch knife in the backpack and a six-inch Karambit fighting knife concealed in her pants pocket.

The arrest reports do not indicate why Soto brought the weapons to campus. Wolf-Chason said the Starkey Elementary staff noticed that Soto was acting suspiciously and that's how they discovered the gun.

"The school staff noticed that this particular teacher had been carrying her bag with her everywhere she went. Which was a-typical and so that's the reason that they asked law enforcement to investigate," she said. "So, I really want to applaud the staff here at Starkey because they noticed something suspicious and acted on it right away. Which, ultimately helped keep the school safe today."

Soto has been a teacher with the Pinellas School District since 2016. Wolf-Chason said Soto will not be returning to Starkey Elementary for the remainder of the school year and has already indicated that she won't be back next year.

Soto was being held in the Pinellas Jail on a $500 bond.