Last Updated: 8:40 a.m.
Texts that have been coursing through social media locally about an alleged gun threat have led parents to pull their children out of Buddy Taylor Middle School this morning, and the school district to beef up police presence on campus. But a district official said the school is safe, and the sheriff’s office says the texts are a month old and were merely re-posted in the last 24 hours.
“We authenticated who the originator of those texts were, we don’t know if the content is valid,” Mark Strobridge, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s chief spokesman, said just after 8 this morning. “What I do know for sure is that it’s all over a girl. It has nothing to do with any group of people or any belief system.”
As the district sees it, the alleged threats have their source with two students who were “kidding around,” district spokesman Jason Wheeler said this morning, though at least one of the texts seemed to be written by a student claiming to have brought a Glock handgun to school on Monday, with five bullets, then gotten nervous and taken it back home.
Wheeler said one of the student involved in the rumors was met by district officials as the school bus dropped him off this morning. He has been with officials since, and will not be attending classes today. The other student, however, had not been located as of 8 a.m. But officials shortly said the second student, once located, was not an issue, and was not aware he had been involved.
“As far as finding is this other student, we know who this person is, it’s just a matter of getting with his parents and locating him,” Wheeler said. “But we have additional deputies on campus.” Buddy Taylor normally has one school resource deputy on campus. Two additional deputies have been dispatched to the school.
Strobridge described the student currently with law enforcement as the “originator” of the texts. “We do not feel there is a current threat to the students at Buddy Taylor Middle School,” he said. But he couldn’t say whether the gun in question had in fact been brought to school a month ago, as claimed in a text, with five bullets.
At 8:45 a.m., with additional information in hand, Strobdridge specified the sequence of events: “We have identified and spoken to the second person,” he said. “The second person didn’t even know that the first person who did some of these things was even upset with him. Here’s where it gets convoluted and how it goes: several weeks ago, the guy we are speaking to, the originator of some of these words, texted a friend of his, upset about this other kid, who he’s never talked to and never confronted, incidentally. The receiver of those texts apparently took some screen shots of the texts.”
Those texts and images were then manipulated ad re-posted with more threatening words. “Allegedly, somebody else took that off of his social media, added his own words to it and re-posted it as if it was his stuff,” Strobridge said.
That has sent the investigation into a different direction as officials are now seeking to find who was involved in the manipulation of texts, and to what extent. “We are still looking for other students who have kind of perpetrated this farce, because there’s other people out there who took bits and pieces and tied them together that were never done that way, and we are still pursuing that as well,” Strobridge said.
The earlier response left one parent who was pulling his son out of school this morning dissatisfied. The parent, who referred to himself only as Tom, said the school, having known about the issue since yesterday, should have alerted parents and had a larger police presence at the school, especially since the second student has not been located.
“I asked the school about that, they said they didn’t send out information, nobody got phone calls, nobody got emails, the school was going to try to handle it on their own and keep it quiet,” Tom said.
That’s not necessarily the case: social media “threats” or rumors have become an extremely frequent issue across the country, requiring districts to balance common sense and safety with the normal running of a school day: the latest incident points in just such a direction, as there appears to have been much less to the threat than rumored on social media.
“If you cry wolf enough then people start turning out,” Wheeler said, “and I think that’s the fine line that all districts are trying to get a handle on. If this was deemed a credible threat, if any threat was deemed a credible threat, then we’d jump into action, but you can’t put the cart before the horse.” He added: “If we lock the school down over every thing that appears on Swipswap, my God we’d never have a student enter or leave the building?”
The texts in question have been circulating speedily on Swipswap, a Facebook-associated platform, in the past 24 hours. One of the texts reads: “Well on Monday I bring a glock 19 to school and only 5 bullets and hid it in my backpack and was fr gonna shoot him but I thought about it and I was nervous also he was absent so when I went home I put it back.” But even that text was reported second hand.”
One text shows a young boy at what appears to be the Flagler County gun range, firing a rifle. Another shows a black handgun with the words imprinted on top: “good bye everyone at btms.” The same texts, looking as if someone had heavily blanked out certain identifying information in red or blue, have been going around Facebook.
“The picture that’s out there was out there a month ago,”. I don’t know if the claims are true,” Strobridge said.
Let’s take this lightly until we see if anything happens. What is wrong with you guys? He took a gun to school. A GUN! Wow! I don’t even know what to say of your incompetent reaction.
Ok well if they are a month old how come no one was informed of them befor. I’m sorry but it’s my right and decision to keep my children home or not when things like this happen. And when the school can call us about everything else but not when there is a threat or rumor such as this is just rediculous. You don’t give parents the option to keep there child home and play it safe or send them to school. That is our choice as there parents in this time of so many school shootings and threats. Is it that hard to keep parents informed you want parent involvement but you get to choice when we are involved. Sorry I don’t think so.
Suspend both students for the rest of the year and bar them from ALL Flagler County Schools. Parents should pay for all the police presence since this was a JOKE and then home school them.
There is no excuse for not letting parents know. My daughter got a text at 6:30 am saying people are bringing guns to school. I didn’t send her and tried to call the school to let then know but there was no answer. Then called the police. When they knew the whole time and chose not to tell us.
I am in shock way was the school trying to keep it a secret our kids are at danger and they r going to keep it a secret and we didn’t get a call until 10 this morning when they new it yesterday. But they will call a parent in a heart beat when your child don’t have the right clothes on or they get into a fight. What is wrong with this school.
Thank you Tom! No! The school or FCSO did not take this seriously enough. Three resource officers, really? This is a felony, hoax or not. Orlando this past September prosecuted. For these kids own protection, they need to be removed. My child told me these are popular kids, so maybe thats why we are ignoring the obvious. I like my child holding assault rifles on social media and showing plenty of pics of weapons. But hey atleast the kid likes cars and arrsenals. My child is weapons trained, but its not on social media and not bragged about. #1 no one needs to know my weapons and break into our home.
#2 education teaches my child that is private for our family,.
Let’s NOT take this lightly. Immature hormonal teenagers with access to firearms is a potential threat that should not be ignored, justified or minimized.
My son goes to this school……I hate to think if the gun or guns where there and where used, that my son or anyone else’s could have been injured or killed.
My son is 14, and I want to think he is safe……that has now been taken away from me, and I have no doubt he would be worried to be there, and he is the one who has to turn up to this mess.
I wonder if I turned up with a gun to your house or place of work and wanted to look cool with it. I would have the cops called on me i would think !!
This would have been terrifying if I reported to school today, that is my school and I have been going since 7th grade, its been out of control with all the drugs and cursing and fights and just everything. Someone has told me one of the names of who it was.
This is ridiculous this should not be happening like everything else. This school needs to tighten up. Now this is why everybody is on school choice. ITMS is 300 more people that are zoned for BTMS. I can’t believe all this.
The NRA has a simple solution, just arm all the students.
Once again “It’s only a joke”. Would it only have been “a joke” if you or a loved one were in that school & got shot. There’s nothing funny about this & I’m tired of these delinquents getting a slap on the wrist cause they said “It’s just a joke”!
Wow! These punks should not be allowed anywhere near a school…and let’s not forget PARENTS NEED TO PARENT, LOVE, SUPERVISE, TEACH, SPEND TIME WITH AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE! ❤
A Lifeson says
I am truly sad to hear people doling out ideas for punishments right and left. We need to stop blaming and start helping!! I can tell you all first hand that the schools do nothing to prevent bad behavior or teach students about violence. They sit and wait for things to happen and then deal with it. Fights at BTMS are daily and still there are no classes to teach skills on dealing with anger. This school has failed our children! We must remember that they are children, ALL of them! Kicking a student out of school is the absolute worst decision that can ever be made. Put yourself in their shoes. I am not justifying the behavior, only hoping that this community and district will someday realize that teaching about violence and actually having a school psychologist provide opportunities for children to meet and talk is the only way to ever solve this. If we don’t teach them, how will they know????? It isn’t just up to parents! It takes a village to raise a child, even the hormonal teens.
All the responsibility lies with the parents. The schools can only do so much. I do believe that the schools handle these issues improperly. A good idea with some mandatory classes on anger management and bullying is needed.
@Anonymous- You are correct. It starts with the parents. There needs to be some accountibility and consequences.