The Collier County Sheriff's Office said an 11-year-old boy who called 911 to report a fake shooting now faces felony charges for the hoax. The call brought a massive police presence to Pine Ridge Middle School on September 23, putting the school on lockdown for about 2 hours.
"I saw this man with a gun at Pine Ridge Middle School," the boy told a 911 dispatcher.
"Has he started shooting or anything?" the dispatcher asked. "Um...I think so," was the reply.
Detectives tracked down the boy believed to be responsible after the principal and some of the boy's classmates identified him. Fox 4 is protecting his identity because of his age. But according to Florida statute, the Sheriff's Office is required to release it to media outlets upon request.
"In a felony situation, that is true," said attorney Mike Chionopoulos, who added that the boy's family may be required to pay for the cost of the resources that responded to the fake shooting. That total comes to over $2,000.
"The taxpayer shouldn't have to pay for somebody's child making a hoax," Chionopoulos said. "It should be that family that has to pony up that money, not you and I as taxpayers."
Jackie Stevens of the Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County said that despite the statute allowing the identity of children charged with felonies to be released to media outlets, she doesn't think that information should be publicized. She cites concerns over backlash to the child in school and the community.