Warning: foul language below.
A 12-year-old Buddy Taylor Middle School student was arrested and charged with sending written threats to kill, a second-degree felony, after her teacher overheard her say she was going to “shoot up the school” at around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
The girl had been referred to the dean’s office before making the threats. According to a statement her teacher provided police, the girl returned from the dean’s office very angry. When her teacher asked her of she was OK, the girl replied with a violent verbal sally: “Motherfuckers–I’m gonna come up in here and fucking shoot all you mother fuckers up in here–all you all be dead.”
But the allegation was not reported to a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy until 2:30 p..m., after the girl had gotten on the bus and was heading home on County Road 305. A deputy assigned other deputies to get a statement from the girl.
When the deputies showed up at her home, in the girl’s presence, the girl appeared well aware as to why police were there. She owned up to making inappropriate statements, and said she was “just playing.” She said in a statement that “I got mad” and made the threat. Her mother told deputies that there are weapons in the house but that they’re under lock, and the girl doesn’t know where they are.
The girl was placed under arrest and transported to the Flagler County jail for booking. Although many similar incidents are handled internally by school staff through so-called crisis-intervention teams, which are set up in every school and where judgment calls are made as to whether to escalate the issue to include law enforcement, once a deputy is made aware of a situation involving threats, there’s little leeway, if any, to avoid charges. Those charges have been almost a routine recurrence since the Parkland high school massacre in 2018, following which the Florida Legislature harshened the law regarding spoken or written threats. However reluctantly, law enforcement in many jurisdictions, which had been retreating from zero-tolerance policing of schools, apply that very standard regarding threats.
“Threats are not a joke and will always be taken seriously,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release today. “We don’t like making these arrests but we will come knocking on your door if your child makes any threat to harm someone. Florida law is black and white and law enforcement has no flexibility so I once again ask parents to be the Sheriff of your home and help us prevent it by talking to your kids about the seriousness of getting mad and making stupid comments like this. Teach them the proper way to handle their anger as they will need those skills for a successful life as an adult.”
Though processed at the county jail and in effect turned over to the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Justice System, the system usually asks local law enforcement to remand the child to his or her parents’ custody pending court proceedings. The school district usually removes the child from any campus, continuing his or her education through individualized education, with teachers but not at school.
It still remains up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide whether to prosecute. Beyond that, the cases are typically referred to court where students’ cases are handled as juveniles, the dispositions usually resulting in probation, written apologies and the like.