Off-hand comment leads to threat panic at local school

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PONCE DE LEON, Fla. (WDHN) — Ponce de Leon High School got a scare after an off-hand comment avalanched into an “uncredible” threat.

“One student was singled out and labeled by another as ‘looking like someone who would be a school shooter,’” Sheriff John Tate said. “The comment began to circulate and snowballed until a student reported a possible threat to a school official early this morning.”

After receiving the report, the school district and the sheriff’s office had to rush to tell parents about the situation and put additional security on campus just in case the threat was real.

Eventually, authorities figured out that the threat was bogus and charged the students involved in helping create it with disruption of school function.

“In this case, there was not an actual danger at the school; however, we always take these reports seriously,” Tate said. “I urge parents to speak with their children about making comments about others or joking about things like shootings or bomb threats. These topics are not a joking matter and can actually lead to felony charges.

“Additionally, more than half the school’s students missed out on vital instructional time as a result of a comment one student likely thought was ‘just a joke.’”

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice recently put a program called “It’s No Joke” into place to discourage fake shooting threats and educate students on the consequences.

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