Firearms Seized at Teacher's Home During Threat Investigation, Parents Furious with Officials for Coverup
Last updated 6/9/2023 at 12:35am
SPRING HILL – On April 7th, R News broke the news of an incident that occurred at Fox Chapel Middle School on March 24th, involving a teacher who made homicidal and suicidal threats. Sources at the time told R News that Ashlee Belle Renczkowski, a transgender biological male teacher, told a fellow staff member that she wanted to shoot her students and then herself.
R News immediately contacted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, who refused to respond to our numerous requests for comment. We then contacted the Hernando County School District and asked Spokesperson Karen Jordan to confirm the reports. She denied that anything happened at all and even questioned the veracity my sources.
Through other sources, R News learned that several firearms were confiscated from the teacher's home and that she may have already returned to the classroom. Again, the Sheriff's Office and School District refused to comment. On Monday, Principal Carmine Rufa sent out a voice text message to parents assuring them that there was not an imminent threat and that the teacher had since returned.
Last night, the Hernando County School Board met in Brooksville, where several concerned Fox Chapel Middle School parents lined up to voice their opinions about what happened. Most parents demanded immediate answers from the district as to why they had to learn about threats made towards their children through the media. Many of them said they were pulling their children out of Fox Chapel due to the threats, but more importantly, over the intentional "coverup" that followed. "There are students suspended all the time for much less than what this teacher said. One kid was suspended for just wearing a tiny plastic toy gun on a necklace, and yet they allowed this teacher to come back into the school the next day after making homicidal and suicidal statements," one parent said.
After citizen comments were complete, Stratton took a moment to address the issue. Stratton assured parents that a full investigation was conducted by the School District and the Sheriff's Office, and that the teacher was cleared of being an imminent threat to anyone. When asked what statements were made by the teacher, Stratton said he could not reveal that information. The rumbling grew stronger when Stratton confirmed that the teacher was back in the classroom the next day. The board quickly moved on to another topic and the crowd walked out in frustration.
Over the last two weeks, the Sheriff's Office provided conflicting information to the community regarding the incident. Some parents were told that the agency was not involved, but then others were told they conducted a full investigation. After mounting pressure from the community, the Sheriff's Office finally admitted to investigating the incident from the beginning and released a full report today.
Here is that report in it's entirety:
On 03/24/2023 at 1550 hours, while temporarily assigned to Fox Chapel Middle School as the School Resource Officer (SROJ, I [Brian Timothy] was contacted by the Assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor.
The Assistant Principal, Kerry Thornton, and Guidance Counselor, Kimberly Walby, advised me that a teacher had just made concerning statements about self-harm and then possibly making statements about shooting students.
Kerry advised me that at approximately 1500 hours, she was visiting classrooms and walked into Ashlee Renczkowski's classroom.
Kerry asked Ashlee how she was doing and Ashlee replied, "Not good, I'm having bad thoughts." Kerry then radioed to Kimberly and advised her that someone was coming to see her.
Ashlee walked to Kimberly's office and started to explain that she learned about a social media post where people were talking negatively about Ashlee's sexual orientation. It should be noted that Ashlee was born as a male but is currently in the transformation stage of becoming a woman. Ashlee is taking hormone medications and is planning on having surgery over the summer.
Ashlee also expressed that she sometimes has suicidal thoughts. Kimberly asked if Ashlee had any access to firearms. Ashlee replied that she had three handguns at home. Kimberly continued speaking with Ashlee about other topics that were triggers for her. Ashlee explained that some students in her fourth period class were not performing to their abilities and how Ashlee seems to care more about their success than the students do. Kimberly advised that Ashlee made a comment that she wanted to shoot some students due to them not performing to their ability. Kimberly advised that Ashlee immediately stated that she would never harm a student. Kimberly advised me that Ashlee shared short term and long-term plans with Kimberly and Ashlee did not seem to be in a crisis at this time. Kimberly immediately notified Kerry and the two then came to notify the SRO of the situation. It should be noted that Kimberly began to reiterate that she has short term memory issues, and she is starting to second guess the conversation she had with Ashlee so far as the details and the order of events with the conversation.
Kimberly and Kerry stated that Ashlee was currently in the media center with another teacher and not around any students. Kerry then escorted Ashlee to her office in the 300 building. Kerry and Kimberly provided me with Sworn Written Statements recalling their interactions with Ashlee. The statements were later placed into Records.
I then made contact with Ashlee. Ashlee was wearing a tight-fitting green dress and did not have any weapons on her. Ashlee stated that she was teaching a class when Kerry walked in and asked how she was doing today. Ashlee replied that she was not doing good, and she was having bad thoughts. Kerry then had Ashlee talk to Ms. Walby.
Ashlee stated that she did tell Kimberly that she does experience suicidal thoughts. Kimberly asked Ashlee if she had any firearms, and Ashlee replied that she does own three guns. Kimberly and Ashlee continued to discuss what has been upsetting Ashlee. Ashlee informed me that she often talks to Kimberly and feels better after doing so. Ashlee stated that she experiences phases of depression and is on medication for the depression. Ashlee stated that she does not want to harm herself.
Ashlee also talked about how someone on social media (Facebook) was posting about Ashlee and her wife, Fawn Renczkowski, who also teaches at Fox Chapel. The comments were in reference to Ashlee and Fawn's sexual orientation and lifestyle. I then asked Ashlee about the statement referencing her students in fourth period. Ashlee explained that she was telling Kimberly how some of the students in her fourth period class are not doing well. These grades can affect their high school grades when the move on next year. Ashlee feels that the students are not trying to pass their class and she does not want to see them fail. Ashlee stated that she never made the comment that she wants to shoot any of them. Ashlee stated that she would never do anything to harm any student.
Ashlee stated that she has a therapy appointment on Monday, 03/27/2023, at 1800 hours with a new therapist that she is eager to met. Ashleo stated that she was planning on letting a family member take her three firearms and ammunition for safekeeping. I asked Ashlee if she would consent to a home check by a patrol deputy. Ashlee and her wife, Fawn, who was now present, stated that they would fully cooperate with the investigation and they both understand that the safety of students is a priority.
The Hernando County School District Mental Health Coordinator, Sandra Hurst, then responded to the school and conducted her threat assessment with Ashlee. Ashlee provided the same information to Sandra. Sandra advised that she did not feel that Ashlee met Baker Act criteria at this time. I advised Sandra that I had come to the same determination. Sandra advised that a plan will be devised to meet with Ashlee prior to her returning to work with students. The school principal and Safe Schools was made aware of this incident.
I then asked Ashlee if she would meet with the Mobile Response Team (MRT), from BayCare. Ashlee stated that she did not want to now but accepted the MRT pamphlet and other mental health resources. Ashlee and Fawn stated that they will reach out to MRT if things get worse.
Ashlee and Fawn stated that they were going to get dinner and then head home to their residence at 10475 Abbeville St. I requested for a zone unit to respond at 1930 hours. Fawn stated that she did not have any concerns about Ashlee harming herself and definitely not any of her students.
This supplement is in reference to an information report.
On 03/24/2023, I responded to 10475 Abbeville St, Spring Hill, in reference Home Investigation.
Prior to my arrival, contact was made with Deputy B. Timothy who advised that earlier in the day, a teacher by the name of Ashlee Renczkowski had informed a school guidance counselor that she was having homicidal and suicidal thoughts and that there were three firearms inside the residence. Deputy B. Timothy requested us respond to the house to conduct a home check.
Upon arrival, contact was made with Ashlee who advised that she knew why we were there. Ashlee advised that earlier, she was having suicidal thoughts but was no longer having those thoughts and that she would be meeting with a new counselor on Monday. I then asked Ashlee if she would be willing to voluntarily surrender her firearms to the Sheriff's Office for safekeeping. Ashlee advised that would not be a problem as long as there was a paper trail of her firearms. Ashlee then led me to where the firearms were located which were in the closet in her bedroom. The three firearms were photographed and taken for safekeeping.
UM1 - black Walther PPK (SN AB125187)
JM2 - silver and purple Walther PK 380 (SN WB075321)
JM3 . black Walther PP8 (SN AM2033)
JM4 - (15) rounds of .380 ammo and (6) rounds of 40 caliber rounds
Upon searching the bedroom, I observed the following: there were no drawings of anything homicidal or suicidal. Ashlee was not currently reading any books. There were no posters on any of the bedroom walls. When asked if Ashlee had ever made any comments like this before, she advised that she did not. I then asked Ashlee what caused her to have these thoughts, and she advised that a Facebook group chat had been making fun of her and her wife. I asked Ashlee if she had any previous mental health issues, to which she advised she did not.
This entire interaction was audio recorded via my in-car camera.
Some parents say they contacted the Governor's Office to share their concerns with the incident and that a full investigation may be underway. We are waiting for word from the Governor's Office to see what action they are taking to investigate both agencies for covering up the incident at Fox Chapel.