Video shows arrest of 15-year-old who threatened school shooting online

A video of a Florida teen being arrested for threatening a mass shooting at a school has gone viral on social media. 

The nearly five-minute video shows two Volusia County police officers explaining their reason to arrest the high school student, who has been identified by the Tampa Bay Times as Adam Guzzetti. Meanwhile, the teen’s mother argues with the officers and defends her son as “not one of the crazy ones.”

The video, shared by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page on Monday, starts with one of the two cops reading out the teen’s threat, “I, Dalton Barnhart, vow to bring my fathers m15 to school and to kill 7 people.”

School threat arrest 8/16/19

A student from Seabreeze High School was arrested recently after posting a comment on a video game chat platform. The comment was:"I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers m15 to school and kill 7 people at a minimum"The comment was reported to the FBI, and the FBI contacted us.The name "Dalton Barnhart" was fake, and the young man responsible for the comment insisted it was a joke.Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law. After the mass violence we've seen in Florida and across the country, law enforcement officers have a responsibility to investigate and charge those who choose to make these types of threatening statements.

Posted by Volusia Sheriff's Office on Monday, August 19, 2019

The video description on the Facebook page says that Dalton Barnhart is not the teen’s real name and that he told authorities the threat was a “joke.” He posted the threat on a video game chat platform. 

“He’s under arrest for making a threat to cause a mass shooting,” the officer tells his mother in the video.

“But he’s just a little kid playing a video game,” the mother says.

“How do we know he’s not gonna be the next?” the officer says.

Eventually, after the cop tries to explain the reasoning behind the arrest, the mother asks, “So how’s there an arrest?” She air-quoting the word “arrest.”

The officer explains that the teen will be going to juvenile jail with a felony charge, though the officer is unsure if it would be second or third degree. He explains that a written threat to harm somebody is a third-degree felony, while a second-degree felony is when there’s a mass shooting at a school involved.

“This is a little boy he didn’t do anything wrong,” the mother says, starting to cry. “And he’s not one of the crazy people out there doing stuff.”

“He did what he did,” the officer says shortly before asking her, “Do you own a gun?”

“I have a gun, yes,” she says. 

“OK so he has hands and feet he can grab your gun and go and do something,” the officer says. 

The mother goes on to repeatedly say he’s a child and not like the others, when the second police officer says, “Unfortunately in this day and age, this is what happens … [parents] always say ‘it’s not my son’ and it might not be your son but unfortunately somebody’s son does. And this is the world we’re in where kids are getting shot at school where they’re trying to learn.”

The mother then blames “grown-ups” who influenced her son.

“He made the charge, he’s gonna face the consequences,” the first officer says.   

The nation still reels from two mass shootings two weeks ago that collectively killed 31 people. Mass shooters who carried out attacks in PittsburghChristchurch in New Zealand, and El Paso, Texasmade threats or expressed their sentiments online before going in to carry out their attacks. In less than two weeks, police arrested two teens in separate incidents threatening to shoot up abortion clinics in Ohio and Illinois.

The video also surfaced as President Donald Trump reportedly backed down on his call for background checks for people purchasing guns, something he’d considered in the immediate aftermath of the Ohio and Texas mass shootings that took place within 24 hours of each other.

“We need intelligent background checks. This isn’t a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat,” he’d said earlier this month, according to USA Today. On Tuesday, he blamed mass shootings on “mental problems.”

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque