Crime

He wanted more followers. So he threatened to shoot up a school on Instagram, cops say

A screenshot of the Instagram post that led to the 14-year-old being charged with written threats to kill. The teenager attended Countryside High School in Clearwater.
A screenshot of the Instagram post that led to the 14-year-old being charged with written threats to kill. The teenager attended Countryside High School in Clearwater. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

A Florida teen was charged with written threats to kill after posting pictures of multiple firearms on Instagram with an ominous caption, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies say the 14-year-old, Countryside High School student, whose name the Miami Herald is choosing to withhold because of his age, posted the four images on his account “monkeywitharifle” Sunday night around 5. The post’s caption read “Don’t go to school tomorrow... THIS IS A JOKE. DO NOT REPORT (It’s not a joke),” according to a screenshot of his Instagram page.

Two hours later, deputies were on the way to the teen’s Safety Harbor residence. While being questioned, the student admitted to making the post “to gain followers and to ‘get some laughs,’” according to the sheriff’s office. He also didn’t think anyone would take the post seriously.

Deputies confirmed that the teen did not have access to any weapons and he was taken to the county’s Juvenile Assessment Center without incident.

This case is representative of an emerging pattern in the Tampa Bay area. Similar incidents involving threats directed at schools or students with weapons on campus have occurred in Hilllsborough, Polk, Manatee and Pasco counties all in the past two years. Additionally, Hillsborough County school was vandalized.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
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