A troubled ninth grader has been arrested after threatening students and staff at a school in eastern Spartanburg County, South Carolina with “Round 2 of Florida tomorrow” via a Snapchat post, according to the local sheriff’s office.
The minor, whose name wasn’t disclosed because of his age, was charged with disturbing schools, and was transported to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Greenville.
According to WSPA, Lieutenant Kevin Bobo of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said the threat was reported when another teen showed the Snapchat message, sent by a Broome High School freshman wearing a mask and holding what appeared to be an assault rifle, to his father, who promptly reported it to the authorities.
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) February 16, 2018
School officials were alerted early Thursday morning. According to Spartanburg School District 3 officials, enhanced security is being provided at Broome High School to ensure students’ safety. The suspect told police that the post was an innocent joke.
“After informing the suspect and his parents of the law violation, the suspect stated his Snapchat post was just intended as a joke, and that he didn’t have any serious intentions,” Lt. Bobo said.
The suspect’s parents allowed deputies to search their home. The sheriff’s office said the mask and the weapon, which turned out to be a pellet gun, were discovered. The student who tipped off local authorities was congratulated for showing courage.
“The district would like to commend the student who came forward with information. It is this kind of courage to speak out that can and will prevent tragedies,” District 3 Superintendent Kenny Blackwood reportedly said in a statement.
In the latest US school mass shooting, another disturbed former high school student, Nikolas Cruz, massacred 17 of his former classmates and wounding another 14 more when he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. He was later apprehended by police after stopping at a Subway and a McDonald’s. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and, because of his age, will be tried as an adult – meaning he could receive the death penalty.
Cruz confessed to being the attacker on Wednesday, telling the interrogators that he “began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds” after starting his assault, and that he had “brought additional loaded magazines to the school campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault.”
Broward Sheriff’s office said that anyone who comes across posts that appear to be threatening in nature should notify authorities so they can “investigate the validity and attempt to identify the source.”
“Should any violations of laws or threats to public safety be found, the poster will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” it noted.
Cruz was ordered held without bail during his first court appearance Thursday morning. His defense attorney described him as a “broken human being” who had been struggling with mental issues for some time. Still, he was allowed to legally purchase the weapon he used in the shooting.
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In the wake of Wednesday’s deadly school shooting, Governor Rick Scott said he wants to make sure people with mental-health issues “do not touch a gun” in Florida.
“The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school,” Scott said. “If someone is mentally ill, they should not have access to a gun… None of us want anything like this to happen again.”