Classroom threat earns 14-year-old Volusia student felony charge, sheriff says

Volusia County Sheriff's Office: 'Little tolerance will be shown for jokes'

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

DELTONA, Fla. - A 14-year-old middle school student has earned a felony charge on his record after the Volusia County Sheriff's Office says he threatened to shoot up his Deltona classroom.

The Heritage Middle School student is charged with making a false report of a bomb threat and disrupting a school function, Sheriff's Office spokesman Andrew Grant said.

The incident happened Friday morning, two days after 17 high school students and teachers were killed in a Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. A 19-year-old former student has said he was the gunman.

Deputies said the Deltona 14-year-old was disruptive, making jokes about the Broward County school shooting and saying he would blow up the classroom. His teacher warned him that his comments were inappropriate, but he continued making threatening statements, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The student refused to take a seat and began shooting staples at the ground, the teacher told authorities. Deputies said after the 14-year-old was removed from class, he told authorities he was only joking and has no access to firearms.

The student's "joke" earned him a felony charge and misdemeanor, Grant said, adding that "little tolerance will be shown for jokes" at the Sheriff's Office.

The teenager's mother told News 6 she had no comment about the arrest of her son.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood said his department investigated at least 15 threats to area schools between Thursday and Friday, all of which turned out to be unfounded.

Chitwood and Volusia County superintendent of schools Tom Russell addressed the rash of threats after the real mass shooting on Valentine's Day.

Each threat requires a K-9 bomb squad response and full investigation. Chitwood was fed up, telling students, "If you are looking to get a felony record, continue to make threats."

"The aftermath of this tragedy is not a time for jokes," he added.

Russell addressed parents saying they need to monitor their children's social media and cellphone activity, as well as check their backpacks before they go to school.

Another issue Chitwood said is that unlocked vehicles are enabling kids to get their hands on weapons. In 2017, 179 guns were stolen in Volusia County from unlocked vehicles, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"Those guns are falling into the hands of juveniles," Chitwood said.

The sheriff continued by saying that the threat of guns on school campuses is not going anywhere.

"The day of waiting for Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. to protect our kids is not coming," Chitwood said. "It's not stopping."

Chitwood said protecting children needs to happen county-by-county and within each school district. He endorsed the idea of school officials  receiving training to respond to active threats and have concealed carry permits.

"The objective is take them out before they get that body count," Chitwood said of potential active shooters. "Lives will be saved."

As of Friday afternoon, more than a dozen school threats in the Orlando area have been addressed by local law enforcement.

Anyone who witnesses a threat or is aware of suspicious activity that might indicate potential violence is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 911 in an emergency or via the non-emergency line at 386-248-1777.

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