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Deputies: Student, 15, had notebook detailing school shooting plans

Baker County Sheriff's Office photo of Kaleb Strickland on News4Jax file photo of Baker County High School
Baker County Sheriff's Office photo of Kaleb Strickland on News4Jax file photo of Baker County High School

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – A 15-year-old Baker County High School student was arrested Monday after a teacher confiscated his notebook, which outlined strategies for carrying out a mass shooting at the school, authorities said. 

Editor's note: News4Jax removed the student's name and booking photo from this article after we learned Oct. 15 that a judge dismissed the case. Click here for the latest story. 

After the teacher overheard students talking about the notebook and took it from the student, school resource deputies removed the teenage boy from class. Upon reviewing the journal, detectives responded to further investigate.

The Baker County Sheriff's Office said six pages of detailed notes were discovered in the student's composition book and some of those notes included specific dates and times. According to the Sheriff's Office report, those detailed plans included "killing the school resource officer and taking his gun, killing the principal and staff" and killing teachers during a pep rally or when a lot of people are gathered in one place.

During an interview with a detective, the student admitted writing the plans, but that "everything was a joke," the Sheriff’s Office report said.

At one point, the report said, the student told the detective during an interview that "he has had more disturbing thoughts than what was found in the book."

The report said his parents have an AR-15, but it’s locked up and his parents have refused to give him the code when he asked for it. The responding detective asked the student if he intended on accessing that AR-15 and he replied he "would rather use smaller handguns and knives," the report said.

A witness told investigators that he was shown the plans at lunch a few weeks ago and the witness said he told the student "that wasn’t a joke and he should stop talking about it," the report stated.

The teen was arrested and charged with making threats to kill and/or conduct a mass shooting, a second-degree felony, and the Sheriff's Office said he would be taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Gainesville. There's no word on what type of action the school will take and whether the student will be allowed back. News4Jax was unable to reach the the student's family for comment Tuesday. 

"It's very scary," said Angie Johnson, who is a mother. "I can't believe it's happening in our hometown."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said even if it was a joke, the arrest could affect the student's future.

"If he’s convicted of this crime, it will stay with him for the rest of his life because it’s a felony and felonies follow you for the rest of your life," Jefferson said. "It’s not like he turns 18 and it dissolves, and he gets a fresh start."

Sheriff Scotty Rhoden told News4Jax that they've never had a threat like this before, but they are prepared for anything.

"We can’t say just because we live in Baker County that bad things can’t happen. We want to be prepared," the sheriff said Tuesday. "I’ve always said when parents grandparents drop their kids off in a Baker County school, I want them to leave and say, 'I know they are going to be safe.'" 

Despite the arrest, parents said they still feel like their children are safe.

"(Superintendent) Sherrie Raulerson, she’s made extra effort to get security cameras in place and everything is on lockdown. I feel very safe with my child here," said Jane Leapour, the mother a Baker County student.

Students said they also still feel secure on campus.

"It's very weird, but it’s good that our school picked it up really quick and were quick to deal with things like that," said Amanda Cruz, a Baker County High student. 

The Baker County School District as a "see something, say something" phone line set up for people to call if they notice any type of concerning behavior. The number is 904-259-0953. The Sheriff's Office said it will investigate every tip reported. 

About the Author:

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.