DELTONA, FL – A Deltona teenager has been arrested for making three false reports of a gun Wednesday at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, prompting a school lockdown for more than an hour while deputies systematically searched for a weapon that didn’t exist.
According to the report, Thursday, sheriff’s detectives and school administrators worked to find out who sent three anonymous tips Wednesday via the app FortifyFL stating a student had brought a firearm to school in a backpack. Through an investigation, detectives identified a 15 year old student named Christopher, of Deltona as the source of the tips. Christopher denied knowing anything about them at first. But when he was interviewed, the teen confessed he sent the tips as a joke.
Christopher was charged with three counts of making a false report of a bomb or explosive weapon of mass destruction (Florida Statute 790.163), a felony. He was arrested Thursday afternoon and transported to the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
Just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, a school resource deputy received an anonymous tip via FortifyFL that stated “the country kid with a blue backpack and brown hair said he had a gun, a glock 19 to be exact.” For an hour and 15 minutes, more than 30 law enforcement officers searched every building, portable classroom and book bag in classrooms to locate any firearms, but none was found.
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Shortly afterward, two more FortifyFL tips were received. One arrived at 1:08 p.m. and stated:
“Guess What!!!! I’m still here. Yall stupid as hell. (sic) eat this glock bitch. Damn I can see you deputy’s. but yall can’t find shit”
The third tip arrived at 1:57 p.m. It stated:
“Yo yo yo homie I seen that gun again he switched backpacks yall betta be ready cuz when the strap gets pulled out we all gon to hell. L“.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood, one of the many members of the Sheriff’s Office who responded to Pine Ridge on Wednesday afternoon, praised all involved in the response.
“The fast and thorough response to this call was exactly what we ask of our deputies and school security staff,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way we worked as a team to go after a potential threat against our students. Thankfully, it was just another hoax. But we’re not going to let idiotic pranks lull us into complacency. I’m grateful for all the hard work that went into tracking down the source and holding him accountable for his boneheaded actions.”
“False tips not only disrupted the school day but also created fear among our students, families, and staff members,” said the Volusia County School District’s Director of Safety and Security, Chief Michelle Newman.
“Students must be reminded that the FortifyFL app was created after the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting to report legitimate threats and concerns within our schools and not to be used as a prank. Every tip submitted via the app is thoroughly vetted and investigated and those students making false tips will face serious consequences. I am extremely proud of the outstanding work by the Sheriff’s Office, VCS Information Technology and the Safety and Security Department in quickly resolving these false tips and keeping our schools safe.”
Fifteen year old Christopher was fully named in the report but his family name is being redacted by The Published Reporter editors due to his age.