Students arrested across the U.S. for threats made after TikTok scare

In many cases, students reported seeing threats on social media or in text messages.
By: | December 20, 2021
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Students have been arrested in several states over the last few days in connection with digital threats made against schools after a “school shooting” TikTok trend stoked fears of violence nationwide.

The threats multiplied after four students were killed in a shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan on Nov. 30, causing dozens of districts from New York to New Mexico to close classrooms temporarily. Districts across the country alerted parents and beefed up security on Friday while a handful shut buildings down. In one of the more troubling incidents, a student in Broward County, Florida, was arrested for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to school. The student was allegedly carrying the gun in a bag that was searched “due to his demeanor,” Fox13News.com reported.

Seven students, including a few middle schoolers, were arrested in recent days in Frisco, Texas, after police investigated multiple school-related threats. More arrests may be ahead, Police Chief David A. Shilson said on Twitter.

“This is not a game or contest for more likes or followers—school threats and threats to school staff are criminal,” Shilson said. “Our school resource officers are saddened that these investigations and arrests take time away from the mentoring and many positive interactions they have with our youth.”

The police chief also commended students who reported the threats and thanked parents for talking to their children about the appropriate use of social media. “It’s time for us to have conversations about the responsibility social media platforms should have when it comes to allowing people (especially youth) the ability to create anonymous accounts to spread fear and commit crimes,” Shilson said.

Three students were arrested in Lee County Florida on Friday in connection to threats of violence, including a 15-year-old who allegedly threatened a mass shooting at his high school, Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced in a press conference streamed on Facebook.

A concerned student told a school resource officer about seeing the threat in a text message, Marceno said.

Another Lee County student was arrested after allegedly using Snapchat to threaten to shoot Black students. That threat was also reported by another student, Marceno said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the students who reported these threats,” Marceno said. “I have zero tolerance for this.”

A 13-year-old was arrested in Flagler County, Florida, after another student reported being invited to follow an Instagram account that posted “Can’t wait for tomorrow” in a story and that made additional threatening comments. “Words have consequences,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “And saying it’s a joke is not an alibi.”

Authorities also reported the following arrests:

  • A 13-year-old boy in Frederick County, Maryland, is facing charges after allegedly creating a fake Instagram identity and generating false threats against a middle school. The teen allegedly told investigators he did it as a joke and no weapons were found when his room was searched, but he will likely be charged with threats of a mass attack, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said.
  • A 13-year-old was arrested in Lodi, California, for allegedly making threats on Instagram, police announced on Facebook.
  • Two juveniles were arrested in Racine, Wisconsin, in connection with threats against schools that appeared on social media.
  • A 13-year-old in Connecticut is facing charges for allegedly warning students at his school to stay home Friday because of “what he might do,” police said, according to Fox61.com.
  • A 13-year-old girl in Miami-Dade County was arrested Thursday for allegedly warning on social media that parents should not send their kids to school if they “don’t wanna lose your child,” Newsweek.com reported.
  • A 14-year-old student in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming was arrested after allegedly answering a question in class by threatening to “shoot up” a middle school. The student told investigators he was joking but also allegedly said he had access to a firearm at home, Fox19.com reported.