WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - A 13-year-old boy in Florida was arrested after creating a social media account that referenced a school shooting, just as a TikTok school threat was going viral, claiming violence will take place Friday on campuses across the country.
Flagler County deputies said they received a report from a student at Indian Trails Middle School in Palm Coast. They said she received a friend request from an Instagram account with the username, "itms_school_shooting." Other students received a request as well.
The student who made the report said an Instagram story was posted with the words, "Can’t wait for tomorrow," and she responded to the story with, "You’re not funny and can’t joke about that."
The account user said, "I’m not joking," and "Wait for tomorrow," deputies reported.
By 10 p.m. Thursday, the username was changed to "itms_school_food."
Detectives said they identified a 13-year-old boy as the creator of the account. They said when they spoke to him, he said he was "just joking" with friends and had no intention of hurting anyone.
The boy was arrested on the charge of "false report for use of firearms in a violent manner.: He was taken to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility, however, based on DJJ’s "point system," they ordered him to be released and is back in custody with his parents.
"This has to stop! Kids – making threats of violence will only get you arrested," Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. "Parents – talk to your children – now! Words have consequences. And saying it’s a joke is not an alibi. We have zero-tolerance for making threats and you will be arrested! I commend the reporter for doing the right thing and notifying us of the TikTok comments. I only wish DJJ would take these criminal acts more seriously so the system has teeth and consequences. As we have seen, catch and release does not work."
It's unclear where the TikTok post on school violence originated from, but authorities in cities across the country have said they’ve received no evidence that the threats are credible. In the Bay Area, several law enforcement officials said Thursday they were ramping up patrols and presence at schools as the social media posts circulated.
Many echoed a similar message: Don't share any social media posts that threaten schools or individuals.
"Sharing unfounded threats on social media rewards those who intend to create panic and can divert tremendous resources away from law enforcement and the school district," Hernando school administrators said. "If you see or hear something, say something. Alert law enforcement right away. But please don't post."
TikTok addressed the threats on their platform in a tweet Thursday afternoon, writing, "We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we're working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok."