2 Southwood Middle School students accused of threatening to shoot teacher

Students arrested on aggravated stalking/written threats to kill charges

PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – Two Southwood Middle School students have been arrested on suspicion of threatening to fatally shoot a teacher who works at their school in Palmetto Bay, authorities announced Monday.

According to investigators, the 36-year-old teacher received a friend request and a direct message Sunday on her Instagram account from an account with the description "Southwood School Shooter." 

Miami-Dade police said the message stated that she and her children were "next on Valentine's Day" -- the same day as the Parkland school shooting.  

Authorities said the message stated that the person or people behind the account had plans to "shoot at the school" and kill the teacher's family.

"The victim was also alerted to (an) '!' on a picture of her infant daughter. The victim, in fear for her life and that of her family, contacted police," an arrest report stated.

"She's an amazing teacher. She's really fun, really exciting. The kids love her," one parent told Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez. "She just had a baby and she just came back to our school."

Parents told Perez they were disturbed by the incident.

"These kids nowadays are actually doing this stuff," one mother said.  

After the teacher contacted police, detectives identified to whom the social media account was registered.

Police said the investigation led officers to the home of a 13-year-old boy, who also implicated his 12-year-old friend in the crime. 

Authorities said the younger student also confessed to his involvement in writing the threatening message.

Both teens were arrested on charges of aggravated stalking/written threats to kill.

The mother of one the boys told Local 10 News that the threats are being blown out of proportion. She said she understands the magnitude of the situation but that her son, didn’t mean it and it was a terrible joke. 

Southwood Middle School is the same school where a 14-year-old boy, Jaime Gough, was fatally stabbed in 2004.

Jaime's killer, Michael Hernandez, is serving a life sentence behind bars. 

According to Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the district has received nearly 60 threats so far this school year and 12 students in the district have been arrested for making threats to schools.

"Recent arrests of students for hoax social media threats demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy related to this type of activity," Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement. "Parents and students must understand that any threat -- real or fabricated -- to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted. Prank and hoax threats made against a school are counterproductive to the life-saving work of law enforcement and compromise the safety of everyone."

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.