FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said it’s made an arrest following a string of social media threats that have been made against schools across the country.
Specifically, deputies on Friday said they arrested a 13-year-old, accused of threatening his school, Indian Trails Middle School, with a violent attack. Investigators said the boy posted content on his TikTok and Instagram accounts.
He told sheriff’s deputies that it was just a joke, but now he’s facing felony charges.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the 13-year-old student had created an Instagram account called “ITMS school shooting” and posted that he “can’t wait for tomorrow,” referring to Friday. The post was circulated online and panicked families in the district.
Sheriff’s deputies tracked down the student and charged him with making a “false report for use of firearms in a violent manner.”
Though the student said the post was just a joke, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said this is the farthest thing from funny.
“I think we’ve made about a dozen, close to a dozen arrests this year, for making threats similar to this,” Staly said. “And they always tell us, ‘Oh, it was a joke. I was just joking.’ It’s too late when we’re knocking on your door. It’s too late for you to say it’s a joke. You shouldn’t have done it to begin with.”
Incidents like this one have been reported across the country. Schools in at least eight different states have heightened security in response to reports of vague, non-specific social media threats.
In Duval County, school district officials said: “While we do not believe these threats are credible, our police are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to respond to anything that might suggest a specific threat to our schools.”
A spokesperson for the FBI field office in Jacksonville said: “The FBI takes all potential threats seriously, and work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats.”
TikTok released a statement Thursday saying that it’s looking into the threats, and then followed-up today saying that an exhaustive search found no credible threat – and that the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. The social media app stated: “Media reports have been widespread and based on rumors rather than facts, and we are deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that has not been found on the platform could end up inspiring real world harm.”