On Wednesday, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office decided to repost a video message it had archived previously. “Making a threat against a school, even if you don’t mean it, is a felony crime,” Sheriff Rick Staly tells the camera as images show a girl on a swing texting her anger and warnings: “Don’t go to school tomorrow.”
Two hours later, a parent called the Sheriff’s Office to report what would be the third such threat in eight days, this time originating at Bunnell Elementary School.
A 12-year-old boy “was arrested at his home after threatening to bring a gun to school to shoot up the school,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said this morning. “He admitted to the threat but said he had no intention of carrying it out.”
“We were informed by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office that they received a tip of a threat made against our school,” Marcus Sanfilippo, the school’s principal, wrote staffers in an email this morning. The message was also transmitted by robocalls. “They quickly identified the person who was alleged to have made the threat, as well as a few people who overheard that person.
The student had been warning others at school on Wednesday not to come to school today “because he was planning to shoot up the school,” the sheriff’s spokesperson said. “He said he was joking and that they make jokes like this at school all the time.”
Two of the three cases of threats of shootings in the last eight days involve elementary-age students. The previous two were at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church–a first for that school–where an 11-year-old made a threat, and at Matanzas High School, where an 18-year-old made threats. All were arrested and charged with versions of the same second-degree felony charge. The 18 year old must appear in adult court before Circuit Court Terence Perkins. The younger students will be appearing before Circuit Judge Chris France in juvenile court.
The spate of incidents suggests that despite schools’ and law enforcement’s concerted campaigns to tamp down on fugitive but costly jokes of shootings, a social climate rife with recent violence may be making officials’ efforts more difficult. But as with the previous two, Wednesday’s case was quickly reported by a parenmt, enabling the Sheriff’s Office to investigate and resolve the case before school resumed this morning. There was no need for any change in scheduling or routines at the school, the spokesperson said.
The 12-year-old boy had not been in trouble before. He was processed at the county jail and turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice. That agency then turned the student over to his parents, since he had a clean record.