It may be the unintended consequence of “See Something, Say Something.”
Several Indian Trails Middle School students received a Snapchat message on Wednesday warning them not to go to school today (May 23), and that a boy previously associated with making threats there would “shoot up” the school. Some said something, as advised. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies investigated and found the threat to be groundless.
“It appears to be a misunderstanding between what was said and what people thought they heard,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said: all the reports of a threat were based on second-hand information, untraceable to any single individual.
But in the age of social media, the message on Snapchat spread very quickly among students Wednesday evening, amplifying fears and causing some parents to keep their children from going to school the next day. The viral reaction is not necessarily groundless: students and parents are continually told by school and law enforcement authorities: “If you see something, say something.” Some students thought they saw or heard something and repeated it as what they thought was a warning or caution. The sheriff’s office investigates all such claims no matter how minor, and in almost every case, the claims have been found to be groundless, exaggerated, or impulsive statements not intending harm, or tasteless jokes. By the time detectives reach their conclusions–however swift the investigation–rumors have generally already spread too far to control the reaction.
The sheriff’s investigation began at nearly 10 p.m. Wednesday after a parent reported that her child had received a Snapchat message that read: “Everybody that goes to Indian Trails, don’t go to school on 5/23/2019… if you have any questions on why text me.” According to the sheriff’s incident report, the student who received the Snapchat message did reply with a question: “why?” The reply came: “this boy named [redacted] said he was going to shoot up the school tomorrow.”
Deputies quickly ascertained who the student who allegedly “has a history of threats made to the school” was, according to the report. The student had been arrested on Dec. 13 “for making a bomb threat at a school dance.” That incident was previously reported. The student was allegedly talking about carrying out an attack with another student, in front of a girl on the school bus, and saying it would take place “at the formal,” where “there were going to be a lot more people in one spot.” The two students on the bus were arrested and disciplined.
The incident report regarding Wednesday’s Snapchat statements redacts all the students’ identifying information, but describes a series of deputies’ visits to various homes, including that of the boy with that history of threats, though no one answered the door there. “The house was completely blacked out and there were no vehicles in the driveway,” the report states.
Other students who had heard or reported the alleged threat were located. Siblings told deputies that they were at the Indian Trails Sports Complex earlier and overheard a boy and a girl talking about a particular individual (name redacted) coming to school to shoot it up on Thursday–and that the boy in question had been involved in an altercation at school Wednesday, and “was running from the police and got away after a brief altercation.”
The incident report documents several other deputies’ visits to students’ homes, whose reports mirrored those read on Snapchat.
“An email update was sent out by Cpl DeSousa to the schools and command staff to inform them of the alleged threat,” the report concludes. “Contact was also made with the on coming shift supervisors to request an increased law enforcement presence at the school and to attempt to make contact with [name redacted] for questioning in this incident.”
The boy in question was eventually located and interviewed at his home. “He’s been in trouble before, so people thought they overheard him making a threat,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said, “then those students took it upon themselves to post on social media not to come to school the next day.” But the investigation “determined the boy did not make threats to do anything at the school. So it was a misunderstanding.” The boy is not at school today. The spokesperson did not have information as to why.
Where do these eleven and twelve-year-old kids get these smartphones? Parents need to replace them with textbooks!
Sooooo Flagler schools, how is the student that made a DEADLY THREATS TO STUDENTS back in December allowed back in a Flagler school to begin with? Does he have a family member that works in the school system?? Way to reassure the already nervous children that they are safe!! You’re doing a fantastic job of ignoring the problem!!!!!!! Maybe children who make threats should have to go to private schools that mommy & daddy have to PAY for!
Concerned Citizen says
Once again kids have way to much access and time on social media.
Please explain to me why children need unmonitored access to smart phones and the internet? What does a middle school student gain by having an Android/Iphone and Snapchat?
If you insist on your child having a smart phone and access to the internet you can control it. It’s very easy. Parental controls are inconvienient for the user but so what?
Once again this incident is the result of someone being ignorant with a social media account.
ITMS Mom says
I was alerted by my son of this Snapchat message at about 9:40 p.m. and contacted FCSO which confirmed others had already reported the threat. I received a follow-up phone call from FCSO at 1:00 a.m. and was happy FCSO did their due diligence and thoroughly investigated the threat before the commencement of classes at 7:30 a.m. today. I also received a recorded call at 7:06 a.m. from Mr. Peacock alerting us parents of the threat while comforting us that there would be extra patrol on campus. Although nervous, I still chose to send my child to school as I felt comfortable that law enforcement was on top of their game. So unfortunate that these baseless threats take away from resources that could be utilized elsewhere but overall very happy with the response by L.E.O and school administrators. Shame on these kids and their parents that continue to think these types of shenanigans are “jokes”
Annoyed parent says
That’s the problem, these “troubled” kids never get dealt with, all they do is recycle them through the schools, we have no idea who is really in our kids classrooms. Which explains why we had a pedophile child rapist at FPC. The devil is in the building and the schools aren’t doing anything about it.
Concerned Citizen says
Glad to see arrests and disciplinary actions are being made.
Now hopefully the DA and Judges will back Law Enforcement and sentence accordingly. Then maybe students will learn there are consequences for your actions.
Along with the legal system stepping in hopefully parents are disciplining severly as well.
There probably was some basis to it and I’m sure the school just swept it under the rug. Just like they do when accusations against a school employee are made. Especially when the stories are all about the same employee and all have the same MO. Flagler county may claim that our children’s safety is their number one concern, but that is as far away from the truth it could it.
School Shooting Survivor says
The claims at my school were “baseless” too. Except parents believed their law enforcement had done their “due diligence” and we were all sent to school the next day. 17 of my fellow classmates were killed. These are memories None of us will never sleep soundly with. Not until laws are reprised, and rewritten; ensuring that it can never happen again. These kids have access to social media for this exact reason. So that their voices can be heard no matter their age. Without snapchat, how would the police have caught on to this? Oh right, after it happens and the parents get to go ID their children in body bags. The enemy is NOT social media. I have many issues with social media. Children spreading fear for their wellbeing on it, not one of them. Parents need to wake up. These school boards sit around and do nothing but debate and ponder what actions to take, yet take no action at all. My children will never be sent to nothing less than a school with a barbed fence and security. Definitely not these walk in awful public schools this country provides us.
Concerned Citizen says
@ School Shooting Survivor
I am sorry you had to go thru what you did But…
Every single incident involving threats towards the school system has originated from Social Media. I don’t know whether kids think it’s funny or a prank. Or they are just bullies and don’t care. I still fail to see why middle schoolers and high schoolers need to have the latest technology and un restricted access to the internet/social media.
If parents are going to insist on giving their kids the newest device or computer they need to set boundries. You can set aps to restrict access and monitor usage. Is it convienient no but geuess what being a parent means knowing what your kid is doing.
I have friends who are teachers and spend a good bit of time trying to get students off their phones. Why are they allowed in class to begin with? When I went to High School you could get suspended for a pager. Those of us who were seniors and volunteered with the fire department had to get permission from the principal to carry a fire pager. And I won’t get into the behavior I see kids exhibit when out to eat with family.
No I still stand by my opinion. Kids don’t need unmonitored access to the internet and social media. Spend more time learning and socializing in person. Facebook and Snapchat won’t help you in the real world. Interpersonal skills will.
Mary Fusco says
School Shooting Survivor, I am happy that you survived such a horrific experience. My children went to school in the 80’s and 90’s. Our school doors were always open for parents or visitors. We never had any kind of violence. There were no cell phones or computers so kids concentrated on studies. There were for the most part 2 parents in the home. Kids ate dinner with their parents and then did homework. They were not raised by electronic devices so parents did not have to be disturbed. Most of today’s kids can’t differentiate between real and fantasy. They spend day and night staring at some electrical device or playing computer games. Most have never interacted with other children. Back in the day If a child acted up in school or on the bus, they were immediately disciplined – no questions asked. Parents did not run to a newspaper or social media to announce that their little darling was being picked on, Parents today need to step up to the plate and become parents. Take away the electronic devices at night so their k ids get proper sleep instead of schools opening later so the little angels can play games all night. Ridiculous.