Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Friday that there have been 15 false threats against Volusia County schools during the past two days, including one verbal threat that resulted in the arrest of a middle-schooler.
On Friday, a 14-year-old student at Heritage Middle School in Deltona was charged with making a false report of a bomb or explosive, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
At Mainland High School, a 20-year-old student who made threats against his classmates on social media was taken into custody by Daytona Beach police for a medical evaluation.
Daytona Beach police identified the Mainland student as Marcuise Deloach. He was taken into custody Thursday.
While police did not specify what social media site Deloach used, they said the threat “reads as follows: ‘This video actually making me wanna do the same (expletive deleted) as killing up all the classmates in the room and everyone at Mainland High School I think I’m a be a serial killer one day and I really wanna kill everybody at Mainland High School.’”
There were other social media posts that caught the idea of school district officials and local law enforcement. During a joint media conference Friday with Chitwood, schools Superintendent Tom Russell said Instagram is the site where most of the online threats have been discovered.
“If any student makes a threat, they will be held accountable,” Russell said.
Among the schools mentioned in the threats were Orange City schools University High and River Springs Middle, and New Smyrna Beach High.
One of the social media threats shown on screens before the media read, “I ain’t saying un (sic) but it’s your choice this ain’t a joke. To everybody who goes to river springs middle school please stay home the school was threating (sic) by a mask school shooter plz stay safe.”
The Heritage student didn’t use social media. He was bolder. He was overheard in his first-period class joking about Wednesday’s mass shooting in Parkland, deputies said. At one point, the student said, “I’m going to blow up the classroom,” according to an arrest report.
He was confronted by the teacher, who brought up similar statements the student had made the previous day, the report stated. The same student then clarified that he didn’t say he’d blow up the school, but only a classroom. Then he said, “I’ll shoot up the classroom,” deputies said.
Even after the teacher told the student sit down and be quiet, the teen grabbed a stapler, shot staples out of it and repeated his threat that he would shoot up the classroom, according to the report. The teen was removed from the classroom and arrested by a deputy. The report stated that the teen told authorities he was only joking and that he had no intention of hurting anyone.
In addition to his felony charge of making a false bomb report, the teen also was charged with a misdemeanor count of disrupting or interfering with the lawful administration or function of an educational institution.
Because of the student’s age, The News-Journal is not disclosing his name.
“The aftermath of this tragedy is not the time for jokes, pranks or fake threats,” Chitwood said. “If you’re looking to get a felony arrest on your record, continue with the stupid jokes and the pranks.”
As for Deloach, police met with him in his classroom and he was escorted to the dean’s office, according to a police report. Deloach was later transferred to the Daytona Beach police station for questioning. After the interview, Deloach was transported to Halifax Health Medical Center under the Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act.
Daytona Beach police Chief Craig Capri told The News-Journal that his agency is taking any perceived school threat seriously in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that resulted in 17 deaths. The killings were committed by a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, authorities said.
Deloach’s social media message resulted in a swift response by Daytona Beach police.
“Making these types of threats and comments is not a game, nor is it a joke,” police stated in a 5:17 a.m. Facebook post. “The Daytona Beach Police Department takes these types of comments extremely seriously and we will always move expeditiously to make sure that anyone who utters or writes such threats or comments, is dealt with.”
A spokeswoman with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said no homegrown school threats have been reported to her agency as of Friday afternoon.
During the media conference held Friday by Russell and Chitwood, the latter made his pitch again to deputize certain school faculty members at each school in the event a school shooting happens in Volusia in the future.
“Every time we have one of these (massacres), you turn on the TV (and) we have all this lip service,” Chitwood said. “But nobody’s got the guts to step forward with a plan.
“I think in Florida, we can end these shootings,” he continued. “We have the ability to deputize school administrators, coaches, whoever, send them through training (and) arm them.”
Chitwood said the issue would need to be debated and discussed by school board officials before it could ever be put into motion. He wants that to happen.
Following the media conference, Russell said such a program couldn’t be launched without a lot of “community discussion,” but added that such discussions have already begun across the state.