NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - A middle school student in North Port was taken into custody Wednesday night after police say he made a threat on social media.
The threat began to circulate among the students of Woodland Middle School Wednesday evening and detectives immediately got to work, quickly learning the name and whereabouts of the student they say sent the original message.
Detectives went to the student’s home and say the student confessed to his role in the text, claiming it was a joke. Police say though they believe no students were in real danger, the threat being a “joke” doesn’t matter under new laws that are meant to crack down on this behavior.
The student was arrested.
School continued as normal on Thursday and police thanked everyone who saw something and said something.
This case is similar to one in Volusia County, Florida, where deputies confronted a mother and 15-year-old boy who allegedly posted an online threat to kill at least seven people at a high school.
The boy told investigators he was joking when he posted the message on Discord using the fake name Dalton Barnhart. In it, he vowed to bring his father’s “M15” to Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach and “kill seven people at a minimum.”
The FBI alerted Volusia County authorities and deputies arrested the teen the next morning.
“Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its Facebook post.
In the video, the deputy tells the mother the boy had made a written threat to carry out a mass shooting.
"But he's just a little kid playing a video game," she protests. "These kids say stuff like that all the time. It's a joke to them. It's a game. And it's so wrong. I hate that game."
The deputy says law enforcement officers now spend a lot of time checking out similar threats.
"How do we know he's not going to be like the kid from Parkland, or he's not going to be like the kid that shot up Sandy Hook? We don't know that," he says.
"There is a Florida state statute that you cannot make a written threat to cause a mass shooting," he adds, explaining that her son would be charged with either a second- or third-degree felony.
"He's just a little boy," the mother says, getting emotional. "He didn't do anything wrong. Yes, he's 15, but he's still a little boy. He's not one of those crazy people out there doing stuff ... he shouldn't be treated as though he's a terrorist or something because he made a silly statement on a stupid video game."
The deputy asks if there's a gun in the home. She says yes.
"Ok, he has hands and feet and he can grab your gun and go do something," the deputy says.
The mother says her son wouldn't do such a thing.
"We don't know that," the deputy says.
“This is the world we live in, where people think it’s funny to say I’m going to go kill people at school,” the deputy adds, before taking the boy to juvenile detention. “He made the charge, he’s going to face the consequences.”