Suspicious texts to Southeast High School student under investigation

eearl@bradenton.comMarch 4, 2014 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Sheriff's office is investigating a series of threatening texts sent to a 17-year-old Southeast High School senior last month.

Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff's office spokesman, said authorities still haven't identified the student who sent the texts.

Bristow said the sender used a messaging application called "TextNow" from a number they couldn't track.

"We didn't find any validity to the texts, and they didn't indicate that anything would happen," Bristow said. "That being said, we still need to investigate it."

The texts, described in the police report as "disturbing and threatening," began shortly after 7 p.m. Feb. 5 with a simple "Hey."

When the recipient did not recognize the number, she responded: "Who is this?"

The reply was: "It's you baby mama."

The texts continued to roll in even after the student said the sender had the wrong number.

The sender said he/she watched the girl in her sixth-period class.

One text read: "I'm going to cut your throat." Another text threatened to blow up her house.

From the same thread, the sender said they would "get half of Southeast" and "the people in your 6 period," listing seven names.

On Feb. 10, when the sixth-period class met again, Manatee County Sheriff's Office school resource officer Daniel Durrance monitored as school officials talked individually to students listed in the text.

That day, the senior told Durrance she received more texts.

The first text, sent at 2:36 p.m., indicated the sender "knew the class was on lock down and that all the names were in the principal's office."

The next message read "but tomorrow ima get you and the others when you least expect it."

Durrance reported he believes the anonymous sender is someone in the sixth-period class.

The victim's mother sent screenshots of the texts to detectives.

"Sure, texting inappropriate things goes on all the time, but this one seems to go a little bit over that," Bristow said Monday.

Steve Valley, Manatee County School District spokesman, said a ConnectEd message was not sent to parents, but parents of the students listed in the texts were notified.

"The SRO and a detective from the sheriff's department could not find any credence in the situation," Valley said. "There were several students interviewed about the incident, and the parents of those students were also notified about the situation."

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at eearl@bradenton.com.

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