PARKLAND, Florida (AP) – A South Florida teen has been arrested after investigators learned he had threatened Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the mass shooting that killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
A caller reported seeing the threat late Wednesday night, according to Broward Sheriff’s office. Officials said the 17-year-old in high school texted his classmates in a social media chat room shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The threat came a day after a student killed four of his classmates in Michigan.
“I feel like school shooting tmrw (tomorrow). When I sneeze that’s a sign I go to the bathroom OK,” the text message said, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Investigators found the student at his home, and he was arrested early Thursday morning on charges of writing a mass shooting threat, sheriff officials said.
The school’s principal, Michelle Keeford, notified parents of the threat Thursday morning via an automated call. Stoneman Douglas has been at the center of national debate and activism about gun violence in schools since a former student killed 17 people and wounded 17 others in 2018.
The teen’s mother told WSVN that he didn’t mean it, that it was a joke to him. She said they lived in another country where schools were safe at the time of the Parkland massacre. “He’s a normal kid from a normal family and a safe environment. He doesn’t realize the world is not that safe,” she said.
“The schools in my country are very safe. Our mentality is very peaceful. He just wanted to show up among his friends,” she said. “That is no excuse for his behaviour. It’s just an explanation for his behaviour. All threats must be investigated. I understand that.”
Tony Montalto, president of Stand With Parkland, the group representing families whose relatives died in the 2018 shooting, said the threat “further demonstrates the need to timely investigate and notify parents regarding threats to schools.”
“In the wake of this week’s Michigan shooting and this incident…, I urge our elected leaders at all levels of government to commit to a renewed focus on student and staff safety,” Montalto said.