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Putnam County deputies warn of fake news story circulating on Facebook

Crime analyst: Creator of phony article could be charged

PALATKA, Fla. – The Putnam County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday warned parents and students about a fake news story circulating on Facebook. 

The article, which looks to be real, contains false information that a student was found Tuesday with a Glock .22 pistol at Palatka High School and then the student drove off in a stolen vehicle when approached by law enforcement officers, according to the Sheriff's Office. 

Deputies stressed that the article is completely fake and it originated from "Channel 23 News," which does not exist. 

Investigators said the story was made using an app that creates fake news stories and the original post came from a fake Facebook account. 

The Sheriff's Office posted its own message on Facebook, which says hoaxes like this one disrupt school and causes the agency to waste valuable time investigating the prank.

"Those responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves," reads the post on the Putnam County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. "The cost of dealing with the fallout from these pranks falls on the backs of the hard working Putnam County tax payer."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith agreed.

"Law enforcement still has to come out to the school and investigate. Now, once they get there and they're able to provide that information, then very quickly a school resource officer can tell them that didn't actually happen," Smith said. "But still, officers are taken off streets, (when they) could be dealing with other crimes, to come to the school and investigate."

If the article was created at school, Smith said, the student would be subject to the Putnam County School District's rules and could be charged with disrupting a school function, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. 

The Sheriff's Office reminded parents and students to be vigilant and stay on the lookout for fake news.