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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 2 years ago

Seabreeze High School racially-charged gun threat causes mass absenteeism

In wake of rising violence between black and white students, 731 students stayed home after seeing a gun threat on social media.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

A total of 731 students stayed home from Seabreeze High School on Tuesday, Feb. 19, following a threat from an unidentified student saying they were going to bring a gun on campus. 

The threat comes after what Daytona Beach Police report has been a couple months of violence between black and white students. Two students came forward on Monday, Feb. 18, and told police they had been victims of a recent school fight, and that there had been several students fighting on campus and at surrounding businesses. 

Ormond Beach Police responded to a call about a fight in progress at 11:25 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, at the Bank of America at 906 S. Atlantic Ave. The report states that the fight was between 50-60 students, and was called in by a woman in the parking lot of neighboring Planet Fitness. 

OBPD reports that the officer could see several kids running and walking away in all directions when he arrived, but none were willing to speak with law enforcement. 

Another witness told OBPD that there were 40 kids around before the fight started, and that a white teenager was jumped by a group of African American teens. Police found a blood trail headed north toward Harvard Drive. 

DBPD arrested one student for bringing a knife to Seabreeze. According to the report, there had been a major altercation off campus during lunch on Friday, Feb. 15 — likely the fight reported by OBPD — and a video that surfaced showed a 15-year-old student pulling out a knife.

Knives and box cutter in DBPD evidence. Courtesy of DBPD Sergeant Kelsey Harris

"It is unclear to this point if anyone was stabbed," the report reads.

The 15-year-old student was found walking between buildings on campus, and after being asked to walk with the school's dean of discipline back to his office, the student dropped his backpack and ran. He was later detained, and a box cutter was found near one of the buildings the student had been walking by. 

The student told police and the dean that he took the box cutter from another student who pulled it out on him. 

Kelly Schulz, the director of community information for Volusia County Schools, confirmed that there was a fight on Thursday, Feb. 14, on campus and another fight on Friday, Feb. 15, off-campus. She said in an email that on a typical day, 70 students out of the 1650 enrolled at Seabreeze are absent. The 731 absences count for 44% of the student body.

The two students that spoke with DBPD said that they had seen a video and text messages of the unidentified student saying "that this is just the beginning," threatening to bring a gun to school and that "will be the end," according to a police report.

Social media shows that the school sent out an automated message on Monday, Feb. 18, informing parents that administration was aware of the gun threat, and that the school would increase its security. 

DBPD Sergeant Kelsey Harris said in an email that police are aware of the gun threat and the activity on social media. She said the agency is working with school officials, the school resource officer and OBPF to identify other students involved. DBPD has increased police presence on campus for the following days. 

"Please disregard any reports that says nothing is being done as we try to stay out in front of this incident," she said.

This latest gun threat comes a year after 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Following that tragedy, Volusia County saw an increase of faux gun threats leading to the arrest of at least 22 students. Back in December 2018, a student at Atlantic High School in Port Orange was arrested after police found a loaded gun in his backpack.

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