Flagler County school officials and the Sheriff’s Office this morning have been scrambling to dispel false alarms of an impending shooting that started within Indian Trails Middle School and quickly spread among parents on social media. There is a stepped up police presence at Indian Trails resulting from an earlier, settled incident. But there are no security problems.
“Our understanding is that there is a regurgitation of the earlier incident and false information is making its way across social media,” a district spokesman said this morning.
Overnight Monday into Tuesday, deputies arrested an Indian Trails 6th grader who had written SnapChat messages claiming she’d shoot up the school. She did not have any firearms nor did were there any in her household.
Early this morning several parents with children at Indian Trails wrote messages on Facebook about second, third and fourth-hand accounts about the same girl allegedly getting a friend to pull the fire alarm so she can shoot up the school. Parents were calling the school, seeking information or wanting to pick up their children.
Ryan Andrews, the principal, sent out a message by robocall: “Parents, we want to stress to our families that we work closely with our partners at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office when it comes to the security of our campuses. There are no safety alerts concerning ANY of our campuses. FCSO may have an extra presence on our campuses today, to show their commitment to that school campus safety mission.”
In fact, word of an alarm going off at school circulated just before 7:30 a.m., though it may have been mistaken for a bell sound at the beginning of the school day. But one alarming SnapChat message had already circulated–by a student who was making the claim about the shooting about to take place.
A deputy eventually made contact with the student’s parent, informing him of the false information his child was circulating. The parent said he’d be taking the phone away from the student. But for anxious parents and some anxious students, plus a response by several sheriff’s units, the school day has continued normally.
The child involved in Monday’s incident has not returned to school, and was still, late this week, in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The dude says
It’s not the parents freaking out on social media, it’s the kids.
I got a text from my terrified 11yo saying the kids were all saying that the arrested girl’s friends had a hit list for revenge today.
You try telling a terrified 11yo that what you are saying is true, and what she’s seeing on SnapChat is not.
So begrudgingly I went and checked her out. The school was surrounded with Flagler County Sheriffs and I thanked each one that I walked past.
Basically, the internets won the day, sadly.
Please don’t downplay this. Our children don’t feel safe. Maybe you should do some actual journalism and ask the kids how they feel before circulating what the authorities want you to say. I guarantee you, the children’s opinions and how safe they feel at ITMS measure up quite differently than what the schools are attempting to portray.
Billy C. says
Why would the journalist ask kids how they feel? If your child expresses that he or she feels unsafe you as a parent need to take it up with the police, the school, the school board etc. There are adults responsible for our children’s safety and we should weigh their efforts and, if we don’t feel they are sufficient suggest they institute better safety measures. When someone (in this case our children) feel unsafe it is up to us to assuage their fears or challenge the authorities to make things safer. But, asking the kids is counterproductive. After all much of the fear this week was caused by children and their connectivity through social media.
Concerned Citizen says
Maybe, just maybe, had the school notified parents earlier in the week of what they were handling they could have prevented the chaos at the school today. My 6th grader happened to have an appointment first thing this morning and was going to arrive afterwards. Due to the messages she was receiving when we were in the waiting room, how they were in lockdown and safe space in the classroom so a shooter couldn’t see them through the door window, I decided not to take her to school. Because parents were not informed earlier in the week most were caught off guard with today’s robo call. Pair that with kids speculating for days what happened and where the situation was and you end up with a mess like we had today. Flagler County schools need to better communicate with parents to prevent situations like this going forward. This is our kids lives your playing with. Get it right!
Billy C. says
Don’t you see the culpability that the students have in the situation? Who said the school was in lockdown so a shooter couldn’t see them…? That is NOT what the official communication said. The social media that your child and mine participate in is more of a problem than you may think. BTW, the incident involving the student threatening the school led to an arrest Tuesday night. I am not really sure what you wanted the school to do since the student was a) arrested and b) still in detention? We are the harbingers of our own fears.
The dude says
Kids with cell phones had a LOT to do with it.
This was just one big freaking game of internets based “telephone”.
Parents need to better educate their young’ uns to the dangers of the internets, and they are LEGION. They also need to teach their children, and probably themselves, that very little of what you find on the internets, and specifically “social media” is actually the truth.
God forbid something big would’ve happened in the county while we had half of its deputies parked at ITMS because of this.
J Titcomb says
I am a parent of a 6th grade student at ITMS. I saw the breaking tv news report that “a ITMS 6th grade student had been arrested for plotting to shoot people at the school, but was missing supplies”. I didn’t know if the student was arrested at school, I didn’t kn0w if the student had a gun, I didn’t know what the “missing supplies” were. Bullets? I was terrified for my child! When my child arrived home, there were already rumors that were going around amongst the students. Looking into the local newspapers and the Flagler Sheriff’s webpage I learned that the child didn’t make it to school, was arrested at home, and the “missing supplies” were guns, bullets, etc. My child expressed that there were another 6 (or so) students that knew of this potential happening and understood or even supported it! I realize now that there wasn’t an actual threat– but because an alert parent saw the messages and reported it to the police. Was that a snoopy parent looking at their child’s messaging (thank goodness) or did that child bring the message to their parent (no other child did)? My question is, if that child had the “supplies necessary” and went to school, what next? All the students are filtered into a single location upon getting to school (no matter how they are dropped off). Would it happen then? What’s the response? The student hears the bell that begins the day- does the gun come out as students go to class in the hallways? What’s the response? Does the student go to the first 6th grade class of the day and pull out the gun during that class or later in the day? The 6th graders are all in one part of the school together (except for P.E. or other extra curricular classes)– that potentially puts my child in direct line of fire. What’s the response? What guarantee do I have that my child is safe when the gun enters? I realize I can remove my child and do virtual school, but that is a bandaid on the issue that I think is of the greatest concern. Students’ safety and what is the response and plan to keep them safe??