VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Volusia County teenager is facing a felony charge after deputies say he wrote a message threatening to shoot up two local schools on the back of a street sign.
The statement was written on the back of a speed limit sign in the 5700 block of Aragon Ave. in DeLeon Springs.
According to the sheriff’s office, the message said “I’m going to shoot up Taylor Middle High School in Perio (crossed out) Perison then DeLand Middle.” The message is punctuated by a racial slur referring to black people.
School Resource Officers at both schools were notified as a precaution.
Volusia County deputies say they were first alerted to the message just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday by a woman who said she was taking a walk on Aragon Ave. during her lunch break and noticed writing on the back of the sign. As she got closer and read the writing, she called to report it. The woman told deputies she walked by the sign every day and did not see the writing there the previous Tuesday at approximately the same time.
According to the sheriff’s office, investigators first attempted to process the sign for fingerprints, but were unsuccessful. They also failed to find any witnesses or surveillance video from the area.
Next, investigators say they obtained a list of students who attended Taylor Middle School and used the bus stop located at the intersection of Spring Garden Ranch Rd. and Aragon Ave., near the vandalized street sign.
Deputies then began interviewing several of the students who all said they either heard from their friends or directly from the 14-year-old suspect himself that he had written the message on the back of the sign.
In an initial interview with deputies, the student claimed he was aware of the threat, but did not know who wrote it. After receiving more information, deputies interviewed the teen again and he subsequently admitted to writing the threat, claiming he was “dared” to do so by one of the other students.
According to the sheriff’s office, the teen said he regretted writing the threat and never intended to act on it. Deputies later confirmed with the teen’s father that there were no firearms at their DeLeon Springs home and the teen did not have access to any.
The student was placed on suspension for the rest of the week and later charged with written threats to kill, a felony. According to the sheriff’s office, the charge was reclassified with a hate crime enhancement because of the use of a racial slur.
The teen was arrested and taken into custody Tuesday morning and transported to the Family Resource Center. He’s not being identified by Eyewitness News due to his age.
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