'Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies': Police arrest Florida teen for online threat

The student insisted the comment was a joke, authorities said.

August 21, 2019, 9:11 AM

A 15-year-old student was arrested in Central Florida after authorities said he made an online threat to shoot up his school.

The teenage boy, who attends Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, allegedly posted a comment on a video game chat platform last week using a fake name, vowing to bring his father's "M15" assault rifle to school and kill seven people "at a minimum," according to a statement from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

The school's principal did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday morning.

The online comment was reported to the FBI, which shared the tip with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are also working to identify the IP address.

FBI special agents arrived at the teenager's house in Holly Hill last Friday. The teenager's mother confirmed there was an "old gun" in their residence but said her son did not have access to it. The boy, who has been banned from the chat platform, admitted to posting the comment but insisted it was just a joke, according to an incident report from the sheriff's office.

PHOTO: Deputies arrest a high school student outside his home in Volusia County, Fla., Aug. 16, 2019.
Deputies arrest a high school student outside his home in Volusia County, Fla., Aug. 16, 2019.
Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Deputies arrived later that morning and took the teen into custody for threatening to discharge a destructive device, which is a felony charge under Florida state law. It's unclear whether he has obtained an attorney.

"Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law," the sheriff's office said in a statement Monday. "After the mass violence we've seen in Florida and across the country, law enforcement officers have a responsibility to investigate and charge those who choose to make these types of threatening statements."

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office arrested 18 students during the 2018-2019 school year for threatening to shoot up their schools, according to Laura Williams, the sheriff's spokeswoman.

Body-camera footage released by the sheriff's office shows the moment deputies handcuff the teen outside his home last week. His mother can be heard telling authorities that she understands threats cannot be taken lightly.

"But," she says, "he's just a little kid playing a video game."

Marissa Parra contributed to the reporting in this story.