13-year-old student charged with threatening to shoot up middle school

Principal: Threats made against Switzerland Point Middle deemed not valid

By Allyson Henning - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

FRUIT COVE, Fla. - A student at Switzerland Point Middle School has been arrested and charged with a felony for threatening to shoot the school, the district and St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.

The 13-year-old student, whose name has not been released, made the threats in a group text, according to his arrest report.

The report said the boy admitted to sending a text, saying, “I’m going to ******* shoot up the school,” along with a picture of a weapon that turned out to be an airsoft gun.

Deputies said he texted that "he was not kidding" multiple times and referenced lyrics from "Pumped Up Kicks," a song about a school shooting.  

“This apparently all spawned from some competitive event at the school where he did not place as high as he would have liked and so that turned into the threats,” St. Johns County Sheriff's Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said.

Mulligan said that in today’s world, the Sheriff's Office must take these threats very seriously, and the student was arrested within hours of making the threats.

A St. Johns County School District spokeswoman said an email and text alert were sent to parents around 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The email from Switzerland Point Middle School Principal Kirstie Gabaldon said the school worked with the Sheriff's Office to investigate the threats.

She said after the student was quickly identified and interviewed, the threats were deemed not valid.

Deputies said their were guns, besides the airsoft gun, in the student's home, but they were properly secured and the teen did not have access to them.

"I cannot stress how serious an incident like this is, and I encourage you to speak to your child today about his or her responsibility on social media," Gabaldon wrote. "If you have questions about how to have this conversation with your child, please reach out to your guidance counselor for assistance."

The teen is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

“It’s scary. I can’t imagine a child of that age wanting to kill people,” grandmother Joyce Cothran said Wednesday outside the school. “Maybe arresting them is the right thing to do -- stop all this maybe.”

Under the Student Code of Conduct, the incident is classified as a level four offense, which is the most serious. Discipline ranges from suspension to expulsion, consequences that would be separate from any legal consequences he faces.

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