Parkland shooting aftermath hits Tallahassee: Teens arrested for threatening to shoot-up schools

“Hundreds of people from Florida gathered at the Capitol to protest gun laws.”
Photo credit: The Columbian

Since the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, three Tallahassee teens were arrested for school shooting threats.

According to the Leon County Sheriff's Office, 17-year-old Travis Williams, a student at local Amos P. Godby High School, was taken into custody on the morning of February 21. Later that same day, two 15-year-olds –neither of which have been named– were arrested for threatening to start a shooting at Second Chance at Ghazvini Learning Center and Nims Middle School.

On the night of February 20, Williams took to Instagram to say: "I'm going to shoot up amos p godby I swear just wait on 2/23/18,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The other two unnamed teens were overheard discussing the shooting of Second Chance and Nims and were reported to a LCSO deputy.

Regarding the incident with Williams, senior english education student at Florida A&M University, Jonathan Martin-Gilliam, was shocked.

“It surprises me because when I was going to Godby, it was the typical high school behavior: fights, kids arguing and things of that sort. There weren’t any threats like this,” said Gilliam.

Gilliam believes that more student behavior awareness from faculty, staff, and guidance counselors could prevent such threats from happening.

The arrests were made on the same day the gun control rally took place at the Florida Capitol in response to the Parkland shooting, where hundreds came out to protest the Florida gun laws.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a law that would push for gun-control measures by requiring that buyers of shotguns and rifles must be at least 21. Despite this, Florida currently does not have laws to charge children who make school shooting threats. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, House Bill 165 and Senate Bill 310 are being constructed, which would prohibit all threats that deal with killing or bodily harm.

Kenya Wynn, a mother of three children, all of whom are students in Leon County schools, thinks that harsher punishments need to be enforced for students that make threats.

“I agree with the three children getting arrested, but what happens after that besides them just being released back to their parents? When these underaged kids are making these threats there should be more extensive punishments than just a slap on the wrist,” Wynn said.

Wynn also believes that more counselors should be placed in schools to tend to students and understand the circumstances and reasons why some would feel the need to make such threats.

Considering the randomness of a school shooting, FAMU Police Department Officer Mike Bauer thinks that the best preventative measure is for students to be aware.

“The first line of your safety is you,” said Bauer. “Also have an exit strategy. When you’re in a building, know the points of exit and the points of entry so if anything happens, you know where you need to go.”

Regarding the three teens who made the school shooting threats, Williams has been taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. There is no word on the status of the other two teens.