ST. PETERSBURG, FL – A 14-year-old boy was arrested Saturday for posting a threatening photo and statements on his Snapchat account, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The boy posted: "Round 3 on Florida on Tuesday," while holding what appeared to be an AR-15-style assault rifle and indicating a shooting would occur at Lealman Innovation Academy.
The boy, who attends Lealman, was arrested at his home in St. Petersburg. He was charged with making written threats to kill or do bodily injury. The rifle was later determined to be a BB gun. The boy is not being identified because of his age.
Authorities said the posts are copycat threats to the recent Parkland school shooting, which killed 14 students, 2 coaches and a teacher.
On Saturday afternoon, the threatening social media posts on Snapchat were reported to authorities. Detectives said they were able to identify the boy in the photograph. They went to the boy’s residence and told his parents about the Snapchat post.
When detectives met the boy, he immediately said: "I know why you are here, because of the photo," according to authorities. He grabbed his phone and went to the photo section, showing detectives the photograph with the statement "Round 3 on Florida on Tuesday".
Detectives said the boy admitted he took the selfie photograph and made the post on his Snapchat account while spending the previous night at a friend’s house. The boy told detectives he was checking his Snapchat account and saw a recent post of a white male wearing a black outfit holding a rifle. The caption on the photo read "Round 2 on Florida tomorrow". (The Snapchat post originated from Spartanburg, S.C. and went viral throughout the state of Florida. A South Carolina teen has been arrested for making the post.).
The boy told detectives he thought the post was "messed up". He then observed his friend’s AR-15 replica BB gun in the corner of the room, so he grabbed the gun and took a selfie of himself holding the replica rifle. He said he thought it would be "funny" and posted the photograph on his Snapchat page with the caption, "Round 3 on Florida on Tuesday" and identified Lealman Innovation Academy as the target, detectives said.
Detectives say they recovered the BB gun depicted in the threatening Snapchat post from the friend’s house.
After his arrest, the boy was transported to Pinellas County Juvenile Assessment Center.
Since Wednesday, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has received several complaints of suspicious individuals who might be a threat to commit acts similar to what occurred in Broward County, deputies said. No other arrests have been made, but deputies say they continue to investigate complaints.
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