In the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, two people have been arrested in Florida in separate incidents related to mass shooting threats.
In Tampa, officials arrested an 18-year-old Florida man after receiving a tip that he threatened a mass shooting at a school in a social media post. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a press release that Corey Anderson’s social media showed him with a handgun, a rifle and a tactical-style vest along with a caption that said, “Hey Siri, directions to the nearest school.”
Anderson was arrested on Sunday, May 29th, and charged with a written or electronic threat to conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism.
“This type of threat is unacceptable. This man intentionally instilled fear into our community as a sick joke, but be warned, this is no laughing matter,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement on Facebook.
In a similar incident, a 10-year-old Florida fifth-grade student has been arrested in Lee County after making a school threat. Investigators learned of the threats made by the boy on Saturday and arrested him, said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
“This student’s behavior is sickening, especially after the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,” the sheriff said.
According to the sheriff, investigators learned of a threatening text message sent by the boy, who attended Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral, which is near Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“We will have law and order in our schools! My team didn’t hesitate one second … NOT ONE SECOND, to investigate this threat,” Marceno said.
He said the school threat enforcement team was notified and began analytical research on the threat. Detectives then interviewed the boy and developed probable cause for his arrest.
The boy was charged with making a written threat to conduct a mass shooting.
Florida law, Chapter 836.10, states that it is “unlawful for any person to send, post, or transmit, or procure the sending, posting, or transmission of, a writing or other record, including an electronic record, in any manner in which it may be viewed by another person, when in such writing or record the person makes a threat to: kill or to do bodily harm to another person; or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.”
The law was changed in 2021 to broaden the language to remove the requirement that such threats had to be directed at a specific person.
For example, before the change, if an individual posted a threat on their social media account, that threat was not considered a criminal act because they did not directly send that threat to an individual.
When the change was under consideration, bill sponsor Representative John Snyder explained that rapidly changing technology requires that Florida’s criminal statutes be updated.
“There is significant ambiguity when it comes to the posting of threats via Twitter or other open forum platforms. CS/HB 941 closes that loophole and makes certain that threatening language that is posted, transmitted or sent is, in fact, eligible for prosecution,” said Snyder.
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Corey Anderson” by Chad Chronister. Background Photo “Prison Bars Jail Cell” by Jobs For Felons Hub. CC BY 2.0.