MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Two teens were arrested early Thursday morning after posting a threat on social media to "shoot up" Martin County High School, the sheriff's office said.
According to a newly released arrest report, several students in a Snapchat group saw the post late Wednesday night. It showed a young man holding a handgun, along with the caption, "[expletive] county I'm gonna shoot up the school."
Those students notified their parents, who then called 911.
Around 3 a.m. Thursday, deputies took two teens, ages 17 and 13, into custody. Authorities said the older teen is the one who posed with the weapon.
Martin County Chief Deputy John Budensiek said the 13-year-old admitted to investigators the gun was his. When authorities went to his home, they found a loaded black Beretta 92x 9mm handgun hidden behind a dresser in his bedroom.
Budensiek said the weapon had been stolen during an unrelated burglary.
"They not only made the threat, but they had the apparent ability to carry out that threat if they so desired to," Budensiek said.
According to an arrest report, the 17-year-old told detectives "he took pictures of the gun on Snapchat because he thought it was 'cool'" and admitted it was "just a prank."
The teen said he posted the photo without the caption to "shoot up" Martin County High School, and the 13-year-old later added the threat in. The 13-year-old, however, said he "never posted any statements on Snapchat," the arrest report stated.
Budensiek said neither teen attends Martin County High School.
"The 13-year-old suspect appears to have had an issue with someone or something going on at Martin County High School," Budensiek said. "We have not vetted out yet exactly what the issue was or who the person was in the school."
Budensiek added that Martin County High School on Thursday is as "safe as it can be" with additional school resource officers on duty.
The 13-year-old — who authorities said has a criminal background — is under arrest for a misdemeanor of possession of a firearm by a minor and has been released to his guardian. The 17-year-old is facing a felony charge of making written electronic threats to kill and is currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice in Fort Pierce.
Budensiek praised the students who noticed the troubling post and notified their parents.
"Those children on Snapchat and on social media all day, every day, they see things that we don't even have the ability to see," Budensiek said. "Those teenagers coming forward could've potentially saved a disaster."
In a message to parents, Martin County High School School Principal Alfred Fabrizio said the written threats were posted on Snapchat, and encouraged students to speak up when they see or hear anything questionable on social media.
Good morning, Martin County High School School families. This is Mr. Fabrizio writing to make you aware of some important information related to school safety.
Late last evening, we were made aware of written threats against our school that were posted on Snapchat. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office immediately began investigating the written threats and identified two suspects who have since been arrested- one minor for making the written threats and another minor for possession of a loaded firearm that was provided to the first minor. Neither child attends our school. The investigation and arrests were completed early this morning- we have since been given the go ahead to release this information to our families, which is why you are being notified at this time.
Parents – please continue to speak with your students about the role we all share in protecting the safety and security of our campus. The “see something, say something” rule played a critical role in this particular case, as being made aware of these horrific and extremely troubling social media postings allowed law enforcement to immediately investigate the threat and quickly make arrests. Please encourage your child to always report any suspicious activity they see or hear of to a teacher, administrator, our School Resource Officer or another trusted adult on campus. Students and members of the community may also report tips via our Martin County School District app or website at www.martinschools.org. These tips are received and investigated by District safety staff and law enforcement 24/7, and students may remain anonymous when reporting information if they would like.
The safety and security of our students and staff remain our top priorities. We appreciate the Martin County Sheriff’s Office for taking swift action last evening and overnight to investigate this incident and make the necessary arrests. We will also have an increased law enforcement presence on campus out of an abundance of caution. Please do not be alarmed by this as you are dropping off your student or passing by our campus- this action, which again is being taken out of an abundance of caution, is part of our school district’s continued partnership with the Martin County Sheriff’s to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
Please do not hesitate to contact the main office of our school with any questions you have. Thank you for your continued support and for partnering with us for your child’s education.
The arrests in Martin County came one day after an 18-year-old student in Texas was taken into custody after opening fire during a fight at his Dallas-area high school, leaving four people injured.