ENGLEWOOD, Fla. (WFLA) – Following a one-month investigation, deputies in Charlotte County have arrested a 12-year-old boy in connection with threats aimed at two area schools.
We are not identifying the middle school student because of his age. He is currently facing 11 felony counts of sending written threats to kill.
Deputies say the investigation started last month after the boy’s father called police to report inappropriate messages he was receiving. The messages eventually escalated to include threats to L.A. Ainger Middle School in Rotunda West and Moody Elementary School in Bradenton.
Investigators say ‘the subject stated he was going to kill everyone in the schools’.
Throughout the investigation, the sheriff’s office Major Crimes Unit worked in conjunction with School Resource Officers to properly handle and identify any possible threats.
This was the message that went out to parents of students at Moody Elementary School on Sept. 21.
“Moody Elementary Families, I am calling you to let you know that the Bradenton Police Department has informed our school District Security personnel that they were alerted to an alleged threat against our school. The alleged threat was reported by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s office while interviewing a juvenile who was also allegedly threatened. As a result of these reports, and for precautionary measures, the Bradenton Police Department and our District Safety and Security Department will provide an additional presence on and around our campus while an investigation into these matters continue. Again, the Bradenton Police Department and our District Security are fully aware of these reports and will provide us with additional assistance and presence. We will update you as warranted. Thanks.”
Deputies say the boy tried to blame messages on an acquaintance, but they were eventually able to trace the messages from an application called TEXTNOW back to the IP address at the boy’s home.
“The text messages were just going to the boy, his father and another member of his family. Ultimately, he was sending the messages to himself,” said public information officer Claudette Bennett. “That is why you see so many different phone numbers that the text messages are being received from, because he was using an application to do that,” she explained.
8 On Your Side went to the boy’s home Tuesday afternoon. His father answered the door, but told us he had no comment.
The sheriff’s office is stressing to parents and students, it takes all threats seriously.
“It is not a joke and everything that you post or say online is taken very seriously. Every single threat is investigated thoroughly and there are very serious consequences to your actions online. Just because you are 12 doesn’t mean that your threat isn’t credible. If there could have been weapons in the home, that is a means to follow through with that threat. No matter the age or circumstance, those threats are taken seriously,” said Bennett.
Deputies confirmed there were no firearms in the 12-year-old’s house that could be used to carry out the school threats.
The boy is being held at a juvenile detention center.