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Hundreds of students leave school after post mentions possible school shooting

Posted at 7:39 PM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-21 20:13:37-05

Several students marched in a protest against school violence Wednesday during their lunch period at Palmetto Ridge High School. Protest organizer Kaitlyn Sokolich was friends with two of the victims at last week's school shooting in Parkland: Meadow Pollack and Nicholas Dworet.

"The Parkland shooting shook all of us," Sokolich said. "Our nerves are still really raw. We're sensitive to everything."

A message making the rounds on social media Wednesday morning hit too close to home. It reads, in part: "...just got this text from a friend saying this girl's boyfriend gonna shoot up a school. This girl used to go to Palmetto...and her boyfriend still lives in Naples (he goes to Gulf Coast.)"

"I woke up this morning with a text message from my friend saying there was supposedly a school shooter going to target us protesters," Sokolich said.

She and about a dozen other students marched with signs in the courtyard of Palmetto Ridge, carrying signs such as "Enough is enough" and "This is not about guns - it is about safety."

Sokolich said the social media post mentioning her school and a possible shooter was too much, especially after two students at Palmetto Ridge and Corkscrew Middle School were arrested this week for bringing knives to school.

"I want it to be really hard for someone to even bring a weapon or a knife to our campus," she said. "And I want people - because I know much of (school violence) is because of mental illness - I want them to have good health, and I need to see good help (for them.)" 

After learning of the social media post mentioning the possible shooter, the Collier County Sheriff's Office posted extra deputies at Palmetto Ridge and Gulf Coast High School. They are investigating to find the source of the post. But hundreds of students left campus after word got out about the disturbing message.

"I left right after third period, and there were lines everywhere at the attendance office," said Paxton Wink, a Gulf Coast sophomore. "There were parents inside the school trying to get their kids."