Young Men's Preparatory Academy student accused of posting online threat

Photo showed color-coded dots on students', employees' faces in yearbook

By Ian Margol - Reporter

MIAMI - Black metal fencing surrounds Young Men's Preparatory Academy in Miami, but some students there said they still didn't feel safe Tuesday.

"Everybody was nervous this morning. They had to check us. They checked our bags," student Joshua Escalan said. 

Escalan said he called his mother to take him home after a social media threat was made against students and staff at the school.

"I heard this kid. He said that someone was going to shoot up the school," Escalan said. 

The threats were made Monday night on Instagram.

The 13-year-old boy who allegedly made them posted a picture of a gun and put a color-coded dot on nearly every student and staff member in the yearbook -- red for his targets, yellow for those who should stay out of the way and green for those who would be safe.

The picture of the gun included a haunting message that read, "Y'all keep playing with me. Wait till tomorrow, y'all will drop dead."

"The root on this one was a parent that was monitoring their child's social media and was able to see the post on their page," Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said. 
 

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took to Twitter to assure everyone there would be extra police presence at the school.

The school district said the student in question was arrested at school and told authorities he was just playing around.

But the district said they have a zero tolerance policy for these kind of threats.

Lopez said he is asking parents to take a more active roll in keeping an eye on their children's online activities. 

"Make sure that students are taking some time before they post to think if it has bigger ramifications and does it constitute a crime?" he said. 

The boy faces charges of written threats to kill or do bodily harm and interference with an education institution. 

"In recent weeks, the school district has been barraged by social media threats most of which have been non-credible," Carvalho said in a statement. "Hoax and prank threats of any kind targeting schools makes balancing school safety and classroom instruction difficult. As a community, we have an obligation to encourage everyone, especially children, to use social media responsibly. The consequences of doing otherwise can be detrimental to a child's future."

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