Hoax call leads to second-degree felony charge for teen

Ocala Police Department vehicle on patrol in Ocala on Sept. 29, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette file photo]

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Posted April 20, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore

A 15-year-old female Trinity Catholic High School student faces a felony charge after she allegedly emailed a phony message about an ongoing shooting at the school Wednesday to another student’s mother, who called 911, sparking an emergency response by law enforcement.

According to an Ocala Police Department (OPD) press release, the student borrowed an iPad from another student and sent an email to the iPad owner’s mother and claimed that a shooting was in progress on the campus, located at 2600 S.W. 42nd St., Ocala. The iPad owner’s mother called 911.

As law enforcement responded, OPD called school administrators and found they were not aware of any ongoing threat.

While the mother was still on the 911 call, her child sent an email explaining there was “no shooting and that another classmate had sent the hoax threat,” according to the press release.

Officers arrived at the school, met with officials, and confirmed there was “no physical threat” and “scaled back” their response while investigating the hoax and identifying the student who sent the false email message, the release indicated.

The student who sent the hoax email was charged with making a “false report concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner,” which is a second-degree felony, according to the press release.

OPD reminded citizens on a social media post that threats of this kind, even as a joke are “never acceptable” and cause “undue stress and anxiety” and waste “valuable resources and diverts our attention from real emergencies.”

“OPD commends the concerned mother for her quick thinking and reporting of the threat, and we are proud of our officers for their swift and professional response to the situation,” the press release stated.

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