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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 2 years ago

Sheriff Mike Chitwood: 'Knock off the jokes so that we're able to do our jobs'

Volusia County addresses the 15 faux threats in local schools in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Volusia schools have received 15 false threats via social media in the past two days since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people on Wednesday, said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood during a press conference on Friday, Feb. 16.

“The aftermath of this tragedy is not the time for jokes, pranks, for fake threats," Chitwood said. "If you’re looking to get a felony arrest on your record, continue with the stupid jokes and the pranks.”

Several schools in the area, including University High School in Orange City, Pine Ridge High in Deltona and Mainland High School are just a few examples. Earlier on Friday, the Daytona Beach Police Department tweeted out that a student at Mainland had threatened violence against the school on social media and was quickly taken into protective custody under the Baker Act.

Chitwood made it clear law enforcement is not messing around and those who are taken into custody by VCSO, unlike the Mainland student, will be charged with a felony.

“Knock off the pranks. Knock off the jokes so that we’re able to do our job.”

Mike Chitwood, Volusia County Sheriff

“If you’re that stupid and callous, get locked up,” Chitwood said.

That was the case for a 14-year-old student at Heritage Middle School in Deltona, who is now facing a felony charge after stating he was going to blow up and shoot up his classroom Friday morning.

Volusia County Schools Superintendent Tom Russell said threats are made to instill fear, and that he will not accept that on behalf of the community. He implored that parents keep a close eye on what their children are posting on social media.

Volusia Schools Superintendent Tom Russell asks that parents keep a close eye on their children's social media during a press conference regarding social media threats on Feb. 16. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

“I want to be abundantly clear," Russell said. "If a students makes a threat, they will be held accountable.”

The sheriff also spoke about gun control, which he said has been an ongoing topic since the Columbine shooting in 1999.

“The day of waiting for Tallahassee or Washington D.C. to protect our kids is not coming," Chitwood said.

He said that 179 guns were taken out of unlocked cars in 2017, and that the majority go to juveniles. Instead of honing gun control around discussions of mental health, he proposed providing school administrators, coaches and teachers with the adequate training to arm them secretly. He said this should be up for debate in the near future.

“That’s the only way you’re going to stop these guys, because they’re going to kill themselves and the quicker we can put them down, the less carnage that there’s going to be," Chitwood said.


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