St. Pete student faces felony charge for alleged online threat

Image 1 of 2

Teachers, administrators, law enforcement officers, parents, and nearly all students in the Bay Area are fed up with disruptions due to threats against their schools.

Officers in St. Petersburg are reminding students that the consequences for making a school threat are steep and could follow for the rest of a young person's life.

After hearing a teenager was arrested Thursday for making a threat against her school on Facebook, Parent Amy Lamb's first thought was simple.

"When will it stop?" she asked. "When will it stop?"

St. Petersburg police say a 15-year-old Gibbs High School student posted a video on Facebook live.

“She posted some information about doing some harm to another student at the school and, in that video, she had a picture of [herself] holding a handgun," Lt. Carl Watts said.

The teen now faces a second-degree felony under a new law that took effect in July, stiffening penalties for posting mass shooting threats on social media.

"Most of the kids these days are using social media," Lt. Watts said. "They’re using Snapchat or Instagram or using Facebook, and sometimes kids post stuff and they mean it as a joke. But we don’t take it as a joke. We take it very seriously."

Lawmakers hoped tougher penalties for school threats would discourage some of the behavior, but officers continue to get reports of threats online as well as written on walls and elsewhere.

Wednesday, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested 18-year-old William Elliott Freeman for allegedly posting a threat on Snapchat.

On August 30, a Polk County 16-year-old was arrested after posting an "active shooter" threat on Instagram. Deputies said the teen later told them it was a "stupid joke."

A week earlier, a Pasco County teen was arrested after allegedly writing a bomb threat on the stall door of a bathroom at River Ridge High School.

Lamb, meanwhile,  believes in the new law, but she believes it's too late. After Parkland, and a Baltimore school shooting that took the life of her family friend, Jaelynn Willey, Lamb's daughter decided to finish school online.

"I can't knowingly and willfully drop her off at what I consider a safe environment when it's not safe," she said