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Thursday, June 20, 2024

12-year-old arrested after threatening to ‘shoot up’ Eustis school

A 12-year-old boy from Sorrento was arrested after he reportedly threatened in a group text to shoot classmates at Faith Lutheran School in Eustis.

The student, whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with making written threats of a mass shooting.

A Eustis police officer responded to the school, located at 2727 S. Grove St., shortly before 7 p.m. Monday after the principal reported receiving an email from a parent of one of his students. In the email, the mother of a female student said she had taken her daughter’s phone away as punishment. While she had it, she saw group texts from earlier in the day that contained a threat by the suspect to “shoot up the school,” according to the police report.

The suspect and others in the group spoke about who would be targeted first and why. The mother sent multiple screen shots taken from the phone, including some of the conversation leading up to the threats to provide context. The principal gave police a list of full names and contact information for those involved in the group and named as possible targets, according to the report.

In the group text, the students complained about some of the younger students going on a field trip after they weren’t able to go on a field trip earlier in the school year. At around 4:49 p.m., the suspect texted, “Let’s shoot up the school,” the report said.

Another student replied with, “YAY Hooray,” and the suspect texted back, “JK.” The conversation continued when a student asked the group who was getting shot first. Three students’ names were suggested as targets as the group debated over which would be first. At around 4:50 p.m., one of the students told the others to “chill” because the female student whose phone was taken away was going to tell on them. They then realized the phone was in her mother’s possession, according to the report.

The suspect told the group to remove the female student from the conversation after another student said they would all be going to the office. The others replied they could not remove her or did not know how. The suspect stated, “we all finna die,” as another commented that the mother would report them to the FBI. One student texted, “If anyone sees this I do NOT conduct these actions in ANY way,” the report said.

An officer contacted the suspect’s mother and advised her of the situation. She said she would be willing to meet with officers at the Eustis police station with her son, the report said.

Officers met the suspect and his mother in the lobby of the department and asked him about the messages. The suspect advised he was “just joking around.” Both he and his mother said he had no access to any firearms or weapons, the report said.

When asked why those names in the conversation were named as targets, the suspect stated one had been a jerk to the group while the other two were annoying. The officers explained the charges and asked the suspect why he should not be charged. He did not say anything. The officer then asked him how they were to know he would not carry out the threats. Again, he did not reply.

At that time, the suspect was taken into custody, secured in handcuffs and escorted to the interview room for processing. The Department of Juvenile Justice advised they would be taking custody of the suspect and he would be secured in their facility. He was then transported to the Lake County Jail without incident.

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