BRADFORD COUNTY, Fla. – A Bradford County man is charged with making a terroristic threat toward children.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office said it received information Tuesday from the executive office of Gov. Rick Scott related to a threat to shoot some neighborhood children.
Personnel in the governor's office notified the Sheriff's Office, and deputies were sent to the home of 57-year-old James Fields to investigate. While deputies questioned Fields, he repeated similar threats to shoot neighborhood children and was immediately taken into custody on charges of aggravated assault, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Fields was taken to the Bradford County jail. His bail was set at $250,000.
The governor's office said they had received phone messages Monday afternoon from Fields, who investigators said called 13 times throughout the night and threatened to shoot kids in his neighborhood. They said the messages became increasingly threatening, and the office notified investigators Tuesday morning.
Due to his threats being made in such a manner, the main charge of aggravated assault is being enhanced as a terroristic threat under Florida statute, investigators said.
"We've got to protect our children and we took best appropriate action we felt necessary because we take it serious ," said Sheriff Gordon Smith.
Smith said the county almost locked down the local schools because they did not initially know how serious the threat was.
"I was in contact with superintendent when all this was coming in. We were able to ascertain he was in house and said he was fed up with neighborhood and it was going to take killing them to get someone's attention," said Smith.
One of the calls Fields is accused of making made was transcribed for Channel 4. In the phone call, a man can be heard saying, "I guess because I am legally blind I need to get a gun and shoot one of them so their mothers can call police and say, 'My son has been shot.'"
The sheriff's office said they are familiar with Fields and believe he has severe mental health problems.
Neighbors who spoke with Channel 4 Tuesday night agreed that Fields has mental health problems, but not everyone agreed that Fields' threats were legitimate.
"I'm surprised they took him seriously because he's legally blind. He can't do anything," said neighbor, Mark Temes.
"He walks up and down the street talking to himself, hollering, screaming, all that kind of stuff," said neighbor Yvonne Norman.
Deputies said law enforcement has had contact with Fields in the past for various reasons, including arrests on charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.