PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A West Palm Beach man was arrested Wednesday night after recent social media shooting threats involving a high school in Port St. Lucie.
Police in Port St. Lucie held a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce the arrest of 20-year-old Brandon Tyrique Kelly in connection with the case.
Since Dec. 24, Assistant Chief Richard Del Toro said they received about 10 tips from the public regarding a threatening Instagram post.
"The social media post showed rifles with threatening wording about killing people at St. Lucie West Centennial High School," Assistant Chief Richard Del Toro said.
During the police investigation, detectives received information from a direct message between the suspect and a witness that identified three people by name.
They later identified that two of the names were Centennial High School students and the other was an adult.
After interviewing one of the students, police were able to identify and arrest Kelly in West Palm Beach at about 9 p.m. Wednesday with help from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Del Toro said they tracked down Kelly using an IP address associated with the social media account.
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Kelly faces a charge of threat to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
Del Toro said Kelly admitted to creating the threatening post.
"His motives in making these posts was to get revenge towards an ex-friend," Del Toro said.
Investigators believe Kelly had a friendship with a Centennial High School student for several months. However, that relationship recently soured, prompting threatening posts on social media.
Police said after searching Kelly's home, they did not find any firearms. Kelly told detectives that the pictures of the rifles used in the threatening post were file photos taken from the internet.
Officers don't believe Kelly had any intention of actually carrying out the threats since he didn't have any firearms, but police said they can't take any of these threats lightly.
"We cannot miss on a case like this," Del Toro said.
Kelly was taken to the Palm Beach County jail and is being held on a $150,000 bond.
"The social media threats have caused concern to students and parents in our community as we have received numerous calls about this. We are grateful for the diligent work of our Detectives who we were able to locate and apprehend the suspect," Del Toro said.
Police commended the public for notifying them about the threats after they were spotted on social media.
"The 'see something, say something,' worked very well in this case," Del Toro said. "The system worked."
Despite Kelly's arrest, police said they will have an elevated presence at high schools in Port St. Lucie when students return to class next week.
Earlier this month, multiple schools from Palm Beach County to the Treasure Coast had extra law enforcement following a viral TikTok video that warned Dec. 17 would be a day for school violence, shootings and bomb threats.
"We commend the students who saw something and said something about the social media threat to school officials, and we thank our law enforcement partners for their diligent work in this matter. Student and staff safety is a top priority of the school district and by working together we can maintain an environment where students are free to focus on learning," said St. Lucie Public Schools spokeswoman Lydia Martin.