The parents of an unnamed 10-year-old fifth-grade student in Cape Coral, Florida were probably alarmed to see their son being put in handcuffs and loaded into a police cruiser this weekend. Hopefully, they won’t be too hard on the police, however, because they had a very good reason for being there. The boy had allegedly told friends via text messages that he was preparing to launch a mass shooting event. And particularly in the current national climate, that’s going to draw an immediate response, or so we should hope. The initial conclusion is that the child was pulling a hoax on his friends and hadn’t actually been planning such an attack, but this week he has become the focus of intense negative scrutiny. (NY Post)
A fifth-grade student in Florida was arrested Saturday for threatening to pull off a mass shooting via text messages, police said.
The 10-year-old boy, a student at Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral, was handcuffed and walked into a police cruiser Saturday evening for making a written threat to conduct a mass shooting.
“This student’s behavior is sickening, especially after the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a statement. “Making sure our children are safe is paramount.”
The boy is a student at Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral. Even if he was simply “joking,” he is likely already realizing what a terrible mistake he’s made. The act of sending a message containing such a threat is a crime in and of itself, even if there was no intention or ability to commit the attack. He could still be facing legal consequences. And if there ever is an attack in that area, his name will be near the top of the list for law enforcement to check on.
If there is an upside to this story, it’s that the system seems to be functioning, at least in this particular Florida community. Someone receiving the texts immediately alerted the police and the sheriff’s office’s School Threat Enforcement Team was on the road in moments. Once the boy was in custody and any potential threat appeared to be mitigated, the Youth Services Criminal Investigations Division took charge.
The County Sheriff was quick to point out the swift law enforcement response to reporters.
Marceno noted that officers were quick to investigate the mass shooting threats.
“We will have law and order in our schools! My team didn’t hesitate one second…NOT ONE SECOND, to investigate this threat,” he said.
After seeing what’s been happening to the police in Texas following the botched response to that mass shooting, it’s hard to blame the Sheriff. He clearly has no intention of being caught in the same media firestorm for failing to respond promptly or not ensuring that his deputies are up to date on the latest training. And that’s not a bad thing.
There are a number of things that the Youth Services Division will no doubt be looking at this week. First of all, did the child have any access to firearms and ammunition? I would hope that it is still incredibly hard for a suburban 10-year-old to lay his hands on a weapon, but did his parents have any in the home? And if so, were they secured? That type of situation is what led to the Sandy Hook shooting, so we should hope that everyone is doing better on that score these days.
I’m sure that officials will also be looking more deeply into the boy’s social media history and interviewing his family, friends, and school officials. He’s apparently saying this was just a “joke” gone horribly wrong. But have there been previous instances where he’s made such comments or sent alarming messages like this? If so, they may uncover a pattern. How many times would he bring up this sort of joke before a time arrives when it’s not a joke anymore?