ZEPHYRHILLS (FOX 13) - A Pasco County teen was arrested after allegedly typing a threat on social media to bring a machete to school and kill two other classmates.
The 14-year-old student attends Zephyrhills High School. He's now charged with a felony. We're not naming him because of his age.
It's yet another case where law enforcement has to say, "Stop and pause. Don't post, text or rant on Facebook while you're highly emotional." That's the message from Lt. Troy Fergueson of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Sunday night, a venting session between two Zephyrhills High School friends took a violent turn. They were using the messaging app Snapchat.
"Basically, the young man was aggravated the girl he's asked to prom was allegedly cheating on him with another boy," Fergueson said.
In photo of a chat, the 14-year-old boy typed, "Ima bring a (expletive) machete to school tomorrow I swear to (expletive) God." He went on to type that he would "shank" the male and female students. Deputies say he also sent a picture of the large knife to his friend.
The friend warned, "You better not bro. You can get arrested for just saying what your saying right now."
Eventually, the friend told his parents, who contacted the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Deputies located the knife in the teen's bedroom.
"After the interview, he said he was just joking around when he said it," Fergueson said. "But, you can never joke about a matter as serious as this because it creates hysteria, gets people up in arms, scares people, is very disruptive to our schools and there is just no place for it."
The teen's father, who asked not to be identified, said it’s a case of a boy with a crush on a girl who got his heart broken when she didn't want to go to the dance. He acknowledged his son made a bad decision.
"My son is a very sweet boy," he said. "There's no aggression in him to do anything as far as what they're accusing him. He did say what he said because he had his feelings hurt. There's no way on earth he would do anything. Nothing was ever done or planned. He was just venting and that was as far as it was going to go. He would never do such a thing."
Jokes or not, threats like these on social media became so common last school year, the district began producing PSA's to try to curb them.
"We do not want good kids to jeopardize their futures by making stupid mistakes," Superintendent Kurt Browning said in one recording.
Overall, the district is seeing the number of cases go down.
"Use social media responsibly," said Pasco County Schools spokesperson Linda Cobbe. "Do not make threats. We take threats seriously and there will be consequences, very serious consequences."
Unfortunately, for this student, a juvenile mistake could carry adult consequences.
"He will pay for saying what he did," said the boy's father. "He's going to understand and know he made a bad choice. You don't threaten anybody with anything, ever. All the other kids can learn from it, too. You've got to be careful what you say and who you say it to."
The student was arrested and charged with making threats to kill, which is a felony. The consequence from the district was an automatic 10-day suspension and recommendation for change of placement.
School officials will investigate the case to determine what happens after his suspension is up.