TAMPA (FOX 13) - A threatening Snapchat photo showing a teenage boy with what looks like an AR-15 rifle has parents all across Florida nervous in the wake of Wednesday’s school shooting.
The photo's caption said "Round 2 of Florida tomorrow.”
Deputies say the student who allegedly sent the snap is a ninth-grader from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and he posted it just hours after the shooting that claimed the lives of at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
In the image, you can see the teen wearing a partial mask and holding what looked like a rifle. The apparent threat is overlaid on the photo.
A classmate of his saw the snap, recognized the student, and immediately went to his parents. They went straight to law enforcement and police rushed the teen's home.
The sheriff's office in Spartanburg said they couldn't tell from the photo whether the teen was holding a real AR-15 or not, but it turns out the weapon was just a pellet gun and the teen said it was all just a joke.
To classmates and law enforcement, the threat appeared real enough, especially considering he'd posted it right as disturbing details about the alleged Florida school shooter's social media history emerged.
Officials in Florida, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, have stressed the importance of “see something, say something.”
"Well, first of all, when they are posting on social media, they have followers. So, kids who are out there, parents; you've got to monitor this stuff. And if you see it, take everything seriously, take every threat seriously and report it to law enforcement,” she said. “We would rather you do that and be wrong 99 percent of the time than have anything happen in this world.”
Law enforcement agencies, including the Polk County Sheriff's Office, are now sharing news about the post, hoping to encourage everyone to remain vigilant about reporting disturbing or suspect social media content.
Meanwhile authorities in South Carolina say they plan to prosecute the teen who made the snap to the full extent of the law. He's being charged with disturbing schools and has also been suspended from school. Pending an investigation, he could face expulsion