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Campbell: Kids Arrested For School Threats Likely Didn't Realize Consequences Of Their Behavior

Guns, parkland
Jae C. Hong

In the wake of two recent mass shootngs, two local students, one from Leon and another from Wakulla County, have been arrested for making veiled threats of school violence. And an anonymous shooting threat temporarily closed a Gadsden County Walmart. 

North Florida State Attorney Jack Campbell notes the incidents come at a time of heightened scrutiny over what people say and do when it comes to gun violence.

“Often people don’t recognize the consequence of their behavior. Often People don’t realize—particularly young people on a social forum--they’re able to strike fear.”

Campbell notes attention on mass shootings often leads to copycat threats.

Florida lawmakers made it easier to arrest and prosecute threats of violence at schools following last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  The recent shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart and another in Dayton, Ohio has also reignited talk of tightening access to guns.

The Leon County Sheriffs Office says  it investigated a social media post made by a 13-year-old Swift Creek Middle School student from two months ago where the student posted a picture of himself holding a bag with the caption “Let’s see if I can shoot the pistol with my left hand.” Another person commented on the picture two weeks ago  saying “Let’s see if we can shoot up the school with both," and the 13-year-old seemingly responded in agreement saying, “I’m ready let’s goo”. The agency says it didn't find any evidence of a plan to carry out the perceived threat.

The 8th grade student was charged with Written Threats to Do Harm. Tuesday, the Wakulla County Sheriffs office says it was informed by the FBI of a social media post that was "possibly threatening in nature."

A Wakulla High Schools student and their parents were both questioned and WCSO says an investigation is ongoing.  

The Walmart in Quincy was also shut down briefly Thursday after someone overheard a potential threat of violence. The Quincy Police Department said the threat wasn't credible.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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