Nearly a dozen students at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach are being questioned about their possible involvement in a coordinated "cruel prank" about a gun or shooting on campus last week -- and could face suspension or expulsion, according to Volusia County Schools.
A district spokesperson told FOX 35 on Monday that it was still sorting out which students were allegedly involved in the prank, which police said consisted of one group of students telling an administrator that there was a gun, followed by another student running out of the cafeteria, which then caused a rush of students to leave the cafeteria.
Police released a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday afternoon to address "a lot of rumors, conspiracy theories and lies floating around on social media." In that post, police said officers responded to the school on Thursday after a threat was found written on a bathroom stall. Police determined there was no threat, but said graffiti in the bathroom has been a problem.
The next day, groups of students "decided to capitalize on the threat from the day before" and conducted the prank, police said.
"Video of these individuals prior to and during the incident shows that neither the male nor the female students observed a gun or flinched as you would expect when shots had just been fired. At no time in the video, does anyone stand on a table and present a gun, or fire shots as some people have posted," police said Sunday.
"We have identified everyone involved and have interviewed nearly all of them, and so far, when presented with the video (which clearly shows the area and everyone's movements), no one has been able to point out the guy on the table, a gun, or the moment the shots would have been fired. Stories have changed from seeing the guy, or a gun, to ‘they just heard there was one,’" police said.
Police said it would recommend charges of making a false report against all students involved, and would also recommend to the district that those students be expelled.
Christina Johnson told FOX 35 that received a text from her son on Friday, which mentioned a lockdown, and sent her entire family into panic mode.
" I don’t know if this is a drill or not but I love you all," read her son's text message.
Volusia County Schools released a lengthy statement on Monday, and said it was aware of the rumors. The district said it has identified all students involved and that students will face consequences in line with the student handbook, which could include suspension or expulsion.
"Every threat will be investigated, and those who are found to be spreading false information and creating unsafe environments at our schools will be prosecuted by law enforcement," the district said. "Spreading false information on social media is a very serious offense."
The district also asked parents and guardians to talk with their children about how serious these threats and pranks are.
"To prevent these type of situations from occurring the future, we are asking parents and guardians to communicate with their children how dangerous these pranks are, how they create a very unsafe school environment, and how serious the internal and external consequences are."