A Matanzas High School student’s fabrication of a gun sighting on campus around noon today led to a localized lockdown in the school’s parking lot, car searches and a lot of police activity on campus. But there was never a gun.
A little after noon today at Matanzas, a 17-year-old student approached Dan Toblin, an iFlagler teacher at the school, and told him that he saw a male student with a gun in the school’s back parking lot.
Toblin took the 17-year-old to the school resource deputy, to whom the student repeated the claim: that “he was walking in the back parking lot,” according to a sheriff’s report, “and he observed a white male standing near a a car and the male was holding a gun in his hand.” (The reporting student is black.) Further, he told the deputy, he saw the male put the gun back into a car and walk away.
The 17 year old said he did not know who the other student was. Nor could he describe the vehicle he saw him place the gun in.
The deputy contacted a sheriff’s sergeant, leading to several units swarming onto campus, and secured the row of cars the student had alleged seeing the other student in. The parking lot was locked down. The reporting student made a written report.
But as a deputy examined video surveillance to see if the alleged gun handler could be identified, he noticed that the student who’d reported the alleged incident could not be seen anywhere in the parking lot at the time he said he’d been there. The only time he’s seen on any video is when he walks into the dining hall around 8 a.m., stays there a few minutes, and leaves.
School administrators located the owners of all the vehicles under suspicion and all the vehicles were searched. Nothing turned up.
When a sheriff’s detective interviewed the 17 year old, the student told him he’d made it all up. He was charged with a misdemeanor, booked at the Flagler County jail but immediately released to his parents. He is likely to face additional disciplinary action from the school.
The school’s interiors were never on lockdown and students were not made aware of the nature of the incident that was animating campus with cops.
Jeff Reaves, the Matanzas principal, addressed parents in an automated call at 1:30 p.m., though never mentioning the gun specifically. “Earlier today a student reported a possible campus safety incident to a member of our faculty,” Reaves said. “Once that was done, our safety procedures immediately went into place. Our school resource deputy alerted additional deputies. They quickly determined that the threat was not credible.” Because of the swiftness of the response, he said there was no need to change the security status of the school as a result. “Had there been a need to change our security status today, it most certainly would have happened,” he added.
“We take all reported incidents seriously,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement issued this evening. “We moved quickly to ensure the safety of the students and teachers, and put a lot of resources into this investigation. Ultimately, the report was unfounded, which we are grateful for; however, filing a false report is against the law and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”