Ocala, FL – Multiple agencies have opened an investigation into a Forest High School agricultural science teacher, after video footage surfaced that showed the teacher drowning two raccoons and an opossum while his students watched and assisted.
Dewie Brewton, who has worked for the Marion County Public Schools District since 2006, was placed on paid leave on Tuesday, “pending the outcome of a district investigation,” the Ocala Star Banner reported.
The video was secretly recorded by one of the students who witnessed the drownings during his sixth period class on Monday, WKMG reported.
He alleged that Brewton told the class that anyone who took pictures or tried to video the incident “would be given a referral,” the high school freshman’s mother told the news outlet.
“He knew when it was happening that it was wrong,” the woman said of her son. “So he...stood behind people, hiding, taking pictures and video.”
The killings took place after the teacher discovered that the raccoons had been killing chickens the class was raising in a shed behind the school, WFTV reported.
He responded by capturing two raccoons in live traps, then had the students assist him by lifting the caged animals into garbage bins filled with water.
"When the raccoons tried to come up for air, they had metal rods and they held them down with metal rods, and when the raccoon would try to pop its head up they held water hoses in its face to drown it," the teen’s mother told WKMG.
The opossum was simply killed “for sport,” she said.
The student told WFTV that it took “several minutes” for the animals to drown.
"They finally took the cage out of the water, and they trapped it into another smaller cage, where the top of the cage would go down into the water," the student explained. "And that's how they killed the second one."
“While law enforcement tells us the teacher may not have done anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable,” the Marion County School Board said in a statement, according to WKMG.
“I don't think that's the way to treat any animal,” the boy’s mother told asserted. “Whether it is a raccoon or [another animal] you just don't torture an animal and kill it like that. They should have trapped the animal and had somebody take them and relocate the animals."
On Tuesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they were investigating the incident to determine the legality of the killings, the Ocala Star Banner reported.
The findings will be forwarded to the state attorney’s office, who will ultimately decide whether or not criminal charges are warranted, WKMG reported.