2 Miami Students Threaten Valentine's Day Attack: Cops
MIAMI, FL — Two Miami-Dade middle school students have been accused of threatening to kill a teacher and carry out an attack on their school to coincide with this week’s one-year anniversary of the Parkland school massacre on Valentine’s Day.
Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade Police Department said that one of the students is 12 and the other is 13. Patch is withholding their names because of their ages.
“A teacher, at Southwood Middle School received a friend request and a direct message on one of the social media platforms,” Zabaleta explained in announcing the arrests Monday afternoon. The message was received over the weekend.
Miami-Dade schools have received 59 threats so far this school year. A dozen students have been arrested for making threats to schools through social media and by verbal or written communications, according to district officials.
“The message stated that she and her children were ‘next on Valentine’s Day.’ The message continued to mention that they were going to shoot at the school and kill her family,” Zabaleta said. “The teacher immediately notified police of the threat and an investigation was initiated.”
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said that the district does not tolerate “prank and hoax threats.” He said such threats compromise the life-saving work of law enforcement and pose a threat to school safety.
“Recent arrests of students for hoax social media threats demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy related to this type of activity,” he asserted. “Parents and students must understand that any threat – real or fabricated – to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted.”
Of the 59 threats, 28 were made on social media while 31 involved written or verbal threats, according to district officials.
The middle school is 53 miles south of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty members were gunned down on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Zabaleta said detectives were able to track down one of the students in the latest incident through the social media post. That student confessed his involvement and implicated another student, who also confessed, according to the detective.
“Both were placed under arrest and charged accordingly,” Zabaleta added. Each student was charged with aggravated stalking – written threats to kill/bodily injury.
Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said children who make threats against their schools also may face federal charges carrying a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
“Parents and students need to know that even a prank threat against a school or public place is considered a federal crime,” he said. “It can lead to an arrest and a felony record. This is not something worth risking your freedom and your future over.”
Image courtesy Miami-Dade County Public Schools