Teens arrested as copycat threats surge across US in wake of Florida school shooting

A Kalashnikov AK-47 - This content is subject to copyright.
A Kalashnikov AK-47 - This content is subject to copyright.

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested in Missouri after allegedly threatening to shoot up a school with an AK-47 rifle, the latest in a string of copycat threats following last week’s Florida shooting.

The teen in the city of Republic was charged with making a terrorist threat after sending a video of the threat to a friend via social media, according to local police.

Officers across the US have been dealing a surge of similar claims ever since 17 people were shot dead at a high school near Fort Lauderdale last Wednesday.

In a statement, police in Republic said they secured a warrant to search the boy's home. It was carried out in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

“Guns and other evidence were seized from the juvenile's residence. The investigation in on going,” they said.

“The safety and security of students and school staff is of utmost priority for the Republic Police and Republic School District.

"It is important for students and parents to immediately report threats like this to law enforcement so a proper investigation can be conducted.”

The deadly shooting last week has renewed concerns about safety at American schools and prompted a flood of pleas by authorities asking parents to make sure they know what their children were up to – particularly in social media.

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The Department of Education also sent out letters to headteachers urging them to review security protocols.

Some school districts have also announced plans to deploy armed guards to protect against attacks.

Copycat threats have even been made in Broward County, scene of last week’s attack.

Police said on Sunday they had arrested a teenager who had posted a message on Instagram threatening to kill people at various schools.

A statement issued by Broward County sheriff’s office said: "The teen appeared to be remorseful and claimed his post was a joke aimed at scaring his cousin."

Read more | Florida school shooting

However, the mood of the nation means that all such messages are being taken seriously.

Two teens were arrested in Brooklyn, New York, last week after making threats on Snapchat.

“Don’t come to school tomorrow,” they said in one of the messages, according to the New York Post.

A 14-year-old boy was arrested in Virginia after a 911 call was made warning of a threat. He was later charged with threatening his classmates with death or bodily injury while they were at school.