MACCLENNY, Fla. – A Florida judge faces growing calls for her removal over a decision to dismiss charges against a student accused of authoring a plan to carry out a school shooting.
Circuit Judge Gloria Walker, who handles cases in the state’s Eighth Judicial Circuit, is the subject of a Change.org petition that has collected over 2,000 signatures since its creation three months ago.
“She needs to be removed from office and only our Legislature can do this before her elected term is up,” the petition states, adding that her term doesn’t expire for “almost six years.”
Reached Thursday, Walker said she had no comment.
Walker has come under criticism since October when she dropped charges against a 15-year-old Baker County High School student, who deputies said scrawled detailed plans for a mass shooting plot inside a notebook.
Among other things, authorities said the student wrote that he “wanted to kill officers and then the gate keeper – then go one by one” and estimated that he would have nine minutes to carry out the shooting before deputies arrived.
“Kill the first responders first,” the notes said at one point, according to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. “There will most likely be chaos. You kill as much as you can before the other students/teachers notice.”
The Sheriff’s Office is no longer publicly commenting on this case.
In October, though, an agency representative spoke before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission – the state panel tasked with making schools safer after the Parkland shooting – and expressed concern over the judge’s decision.
The judge dismissed the charge of making threats to kill and/or conduct a mass shooting in part because the notes weren’t sent to anyone.
The Sheriff’s Office disagreed, pointing to state law that defines offenders as “any person who makes, posts, or transmits a threat in a writing or other record.” As the agency noted, authorities only learned of the notes after they were shown to another student.
“Prosecution plead with the judge about the case law, about the case, about the interpretation of the law,” Maj. Randy Crews testified in October. “Quite frankly, the judge disagreed and dismissed the case.”
“I am not a lawyer, but I want to make you aware of this situation. If these judges make these rulings, we are moving backwards,” Crews told the commission.
The person behind the petition, who spoke with the News4Jax I-TEAM on the condition of anonymity, shared a Nov. 25 email exchange with State Rep. Chuck Brannon.
“They were aware of this situation from day one and have already consulted with the ethics committee on the house side,” Brannon said. “We continue to monitor and study the options in consultation with other officials locally and in Tallahassee.”
Florida’s Eighth Circuit includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties.