Teen threatens violence at Lake Minneola High via Snapchat, deputies say

16-year-old faces charges; post made after suicide at school

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

MINNEOLA, Fla. - A 16-year-old faces charges on suspicion of threatening violence at Lake Minneola High School, where a student shot and killed himself on Tuesday, authorities said.

Deputies said the culprit does not attend Lake Minneola High and is enrolled in an adult GED program. The threat, however, was directed at LMHS, deputies said.

News 6 is not naming the teen because of his age.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said it was made aware of a Snapchat post in which the user showed himself with a gun and alluded to violence at the school.

"I'm going to Lake Minneola to finish what never started," the post read, according to the arrest report.

Deputies were able to quickly identify the person who sent the message and contact his parents who told deputies he did not have an actual firearm, Lake County Sheriff's Office Lt. Joh Herrell said.

"The suspect was identified and located on a traffic stop," deputies said. "The alleged firearm was a pellet gun in his possession."

Deputies seized the gun and informed the high school "so the appropriate action could be taken on their end," officials said.

The Snapchat post was made after Seth Sutherland, a 17-year-old senior at Lake Minneola High, committed suicide Tuesday during a fire drill, officials said.

Deputies said Sutherland posted on social media before his death, sending private messages to his loved ones to say goodbye and posting a separate public message on Snapchat condemning the people he believed contributed to his actions.

The teen told deputies that Sutherland was a friend of his and he made the post on Snapchat only in "jest" and had no intention of doing anything, according to the report.

The 16-year-old is charged with written threats to kill or do bodily harm, which is a second-degree felony.

What are the warning signs?

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an American dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes, and there are 1.1 million suicide attempts every year in the United States.

[RESOURCE:  Suicide-prevention lifeline]

Health experts say there are warning signs before someone chooses to act.

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

According to the American Association of Suicidology, the more of these signs a person shows, the greater their risk of committing suicide.

Students who observe bullying or are concerned about their classmates can visit speakouthotline.org or text "speakout" to anonymously report concerning behavior, according to Lake County school officials.

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