Judge Dismissed Threat Case Against Baker County Student
On September 9, Baker County Sheriff Deputies arrested a 15 year old student for threatening a mass shooting at his school. His plans were specific and detailed, written in a notebook that another student saw. The witness then told the teacher at Baker County High School. The teacher immediately notified law enforcement. But after the arrest, the judge dismissed the threat case, saying that it doesn’t follow Florida law. Both Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson and Baker County Sheriff Scott Rhoden disagree.
Six Pages of Plans
“The Baker County Sheriff’s Office said six pages of detailed notes were discovered in the student’s composition book and some of those notes included specific dates and times. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, those detailed plans included “killing the school resource officer and taking his gun, killing the principal and staff” and killing teachers during a pep rally or when a lot of people are gathered in one place.”
The student admitted writing those things, but stated it was a “joke” and that he had no intent to carry out the threats. He also told deputies that he “has had more disturbing thoughts than what was found in the book.” When asked if he could access his parents AR-15, he told them he can’t get the code from his mother, but he prefers “handguns or knives.”
Judge dismissed the case
Circuit Judge Gloria Walker of the 8th Judicial Circuit dismissed the case because she said it didn’t meet the criteria set forth in Florida law for “transmitting” the threat.
Florida law is pretty clear on “transmitting” a threat, but this judge appears to have misinterpreted the law.
Sheriff Scotty Rhoden wrote on October 16:
“The law in this case is written in clear language describing the creation of this document as a second degree felony. It states, “any person who makes, posts, or transmits a threat in a writing or other record, including an electronic record, to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism, in any manner that would allow another person to view the threat, commits a felony of the second degree”.
Focus on the word “or”, this means that any of those alone would apply. In addition, the student showed the contents of the book to a classmate which allowed it to be viewed. The law clearly states “ in any manner that allows it to be viewed”. I believe this case was clear and should have had a different outcome.
The Sheriff stated he is researching his options on moving forward and plans to appeal it if possible.
Situations like this are how troubled students slip through the cracks. It was unclear from the reports whether the student will be allowed back in class, or whether he will get the help he needs.
Featured photo: By Excel23 – Own work, Wikimedia Commons