A 14-year-old student who last year was either expelled or withdrawn from in-school attendance at Buddy Taylor Middle School over disciplinary issues was arrested today and charged with a second-degree felony for allegedly threatening to shoot up the school. An investigation found he’d had no means to carry out the act, and that he’d been joking about it in chats.
What led to the charge against C.S. of “written threats to kill,” as the law phrases the offense, was an exchange on Instagram between the student and a former school-mate–a current student at Buddy Taylor Middle School. The Buddy Taylor student received a message from C.S. showing C.S. holding what looked like a semi-automatic black gun.
The student at first thought that C.S. was joking, and asked C.S. if he was for real. “No,” C.S. told him. C.S. then asked the student if he was going to tell. When the student told him there’d been a lot of school shootings this year–the federal government reported that 2021 marked a 20-year high for school shootings, with a total of 93 resulting in injuries or deaths–C.S. said he was going to shoot up Buddy Taylor on Wednesday (what would have been today). He asked the other student if he wanted to come with him. The student declined. C.S. again said he was joking.
When th conversation was over, the student in Flagler showed the exchange to his mother. By the time she looked up C.S.’s page, he had removed the picture of himself with the apparent gun and blocked the student from seeing his profile.
The school’s resource deputy met with the Buddy Taylor Middle School student who’d engaged in the conversation with C.S. Then, using various means now easily accessible to locate a social media user’s friends, the deputy found another Buddy Taylor Middle School student who was connected to C.S., and through that student found a brief video on C.S.’s page of someone showing a gun, but not featuring C.S. himself. That student also mentioned the a deleted post where C.S. allegedly referred to shooting up Buddy Taylor Middle School.
The deputy located C.S.’s mother, who works in Palm Coast. She said her son was playing with a BB gun that belonged to his cousin, and eventually provided an address in Deltona where C.S. was staying. She said she would drive her son back to Flagler to cooperate with the investigation. She did so, bringing her son to the county jail, where he was processed but not kept. Students are usually returned to their parents’ custody pending the disposition of the case. In such cases, they generally get probationary terms.
“The investigation determined there was no active threat as the former student was in Volusia County and had no means of transportation to the school,” a sheriff’s release stated.
“Threats such as these are not a joke and will always be taken seriously and quickly investigated,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We don’t like making these arrests, but we will protect Flagler County students to the best of our ability any time a threat such as this one occurs. Thank you to the parent who found messages on their child’s phone and then reported it to us so we could take swift action to prevent an incident from occurring within Flagler County Schools and making a quick arrest.”