Teen who tweeted threats faces felony charge

Austin Lee Bowlin says messages misunderstood

MIAMI - A judge found probable cause against a 16-year-old student accused of tweeting out threats to open fire at his school.

Austin Lee Bowlin was arrested Monday. He waived his right to a first appearance on Wednesday.

Bowlin faces a charge of writing or making threats to injure or cause bodily injury, a felony. He will remain on home detention.

According to an arrest affidavit, Bowlin sent out several tweets after an announcement was made by the principal at Miami Lakes Educational Center, including writing:

  • Finna shoot up the school this Friday. Prepare Yourselfs
  • Making a list and checking it twice. We're about to see who gets shot up real nice
  • Just cause this school has a "safety plan" don't mean ****. I could have walked in today with a gun in my bag and shot my whole class. Dead.
  • Yeah, Bunch of little kids Died. I could care less and my school announces it like it matters. safe? I could shoot this school up easily

But he says his words weren't meant to be taken literally.

"The way that people are reacting is wrong and I came off strong about it but it got, obviously, got to a lot of people's heads," Bowlin said Tuesday. "The way that I see it is that for people to understand it, it has to be harsh."

He told police the tweets were his reaction to the principal's announcement regarding the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"There were a bunch of kids in my class that were laughing and making a joke out of it as if it wasn't a big deal, and it made me upset," said Bowlin.

On Wednesday, classmates spoke out about the incident.

"As a student, we were all scared," said Anais Simo.

"He wasn't trying to be a copycat. I think he was just trying to be funny and it got out of hand," said Teresa Pinate.

"I just think it was a stupid idea," said Chris Topherromero.

A spokesman for Miami-Dade County Public Schools said Bowlin is suspended for 10 days and the school board will recommend expelling him at its next meeting.

"I've personally already said that I am going to be voting for his expulsion. I think this is a very serious matter," said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado. "It's a matter of immaturity and I hope that he learns his lesson from this, but we also have to send a broader message to all of our students and our teachers that when it comes to safety, irrespective of if you mean it or not, this is not a joking matter."

"I miss it. I miss going to school," Bowlin said Tuesday. "The only thing I really want to do is finish high school."

Another hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3rd.

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