A Florida mom pleaded with authorities as they arrested her 15-year-old son over comments he made online regarding a school shooting, claiming he is "just a little boy." In the wake of a recent rash of gun-related deaths and mass shootings, authorities aren't willing to leave anything to chance. When Volusia County Sheriff’s Officers received reports that the teen allegedly made threats online regarding a school, they promptly took action.
The 15-year-old high school student was posting in a Minecraft chat room when he wrote, "I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers m15 to school and kill 7 people at a minimum," The Volusia Country Sheriff's Office reported in a Facebook post featuring bodycam footage of the teen's arrest.
While the name Dalton Barnhart isn't the teen's real name, and although he insisted the comment was a joke, it was reported to the FBI who reported it to the local police. "Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law," the Facebook post read. "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."
School threat arrest 8/16/19
A student from Seabreeze High School was arrested recently after posting a comment on a video game chat platform. The comment was: "I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers m15 to school and kill 7 people at a minimum" The comment was reported to the FBI, and the FBI contacted us. The name "Dalton Barnhart" was fake, and the young man responsible for the comment insisted it was a joke. Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law. 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.Posted by Volusia Sheriff's Office on Monday, August 19, 2019
In the video, the teen's mother speaks with the police stating her son is "just a little kid playing a video game" and that he's not "one of those crazy people out there" and he "shouldn’t be treated as though he’s a terrorist."
Detective Brian Howard explained to the mother that it's their responsibility to take all threats seriously. "How do we know he’s not going to be the kid from Parkland, that he’s not going to be the next kid, the kid that shot up Sandy Hook," Howard says to the mother. "We don’t know that."
"This is the world we’re in where kids are getting shot at school while they’re trying to learn," the other officer, Deputy Jeff Werfel, explained to the distraught mother. "And unfortunately we can’t take risks and we can’t say ‘alright, we trust that this guy is not going to do it’ and then it happens and then we say ‘well, we had the chance to stop it.’"
Andrew Gant, a spokesperson for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, told BuzzFeed News that law enforcement officers "are frustrated with the frequency of these types of threats and the casual way they’re posted on social media, in chat apps, and on other platforms," adding that those who make the threats usually state they are joking. "From a law enforcement perspective, after the tragedies we’ve seen here in Florida and across the country, we just can’t have the luxury of tolerance for jokes about mass shootings, because so often they can be indistinguishable from actual threats," Gant said.
The teen is now reportedly facing a felony charge of threat to discharge a destructive device.