If there’s one lesson to be taken from the Uvalde, Texas, school attack last week, it’s that police can’t hesitate when faced with a threat. That’s true whether the attack is taking place or whether a potential attacker is sending up red flags.
In Lee County, Florida, the sheriff’s office showed how it was done. Not only did it have a dedicated school threat task force that jumped into action after a 10-year-old allegedly texted a shooting threat, it also has a sheriff who sent an unmistakable seven-word message to anyone who would threaten a school in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting.
That message? “Think again. We will kill you immediately.”
(As the facts are coming out, it’s clear that local law enforcement in Uvalde didn’t have this mentality. Here at The Western Journal, we’ll continue to bring readers the latest developments regarding what happened at Robb Elementary School — and whether police inaction cost lives. You can support our coverage by subscribing.)
According to Fox News, the fifth-grader was arrested Saturday after threatening to pull off a mass shooting at Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral, Florida, where he’s a student.
5TH GRADER ARRESTED FOR MAKING WRITTEN THREAT
“Right now is not the time to act like a little delinquent. It’s not funny. This child made a fake threat, and now he’s experiencing real consequences,” stated Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
— Carmine Marceno – Florida’s Law and Order Sheriff (@SheriffLeeFL) May 28, 2022
The alleged text, according to the New York Post, started with a Google image of money and the words “I scammed my friend.”
The text then included an image of four rifles and the words “Get ready for water day.”
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That was a reference to an event where students engage in water-related activities like running through sprinklers.
“He described wads of cash and ‘get ready’ to commit a mass shooting,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Monday during an interview with a radio station based in Colombia, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. “We don’t wait one second. We investigate every threat as if it’s real.”
Fox reported that the county’s School Threat Enforcement Team was notified of the text and began investigating. The boy was arrested after a police interview that determined there was probable cause.
The investigation will be conducted by the Youth Services Criminal Investigations Division because of the student’s age. Contrary to customary practice for juvenile offenders, the sheriff’s office posted a video of the student’s perp walk along with a message from Marceno.
“This student’s behavior is sickening, especially after the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,” Marceno said. “Making sure our children are safe is paramount. We will have law and order in our schools! My team didn’t hesitate one second…NOT ONE SECOND, to investigate this threat.”
“Right now is not the time to act like a little delinquent,” Marceno added. “It’s not funny. This child made a fake threat, and now he’s experiencing real consequences.”
While the child’s name has been been released by the sheriff’s department, we aren’t using it due to his age. However, it’s part of a campaign Marceno has conducted to deter threats or attacks against schools in his county.
“I did a campaign: ‘Fake threat, real consequence,’” he said during the radio interview, the Daily Mail reported.
“While I understand the boy is 10 years old. His brain’s not fully developed, he’s a juvenile. I have to tell you: When a 10-year-old presses a trigger, the aftermath is the same regardless of the age.”
He also had a message for anyone who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Uvalde school gunman Salvador Ramos — the now-deceased Salvador Ramos.
“You don’t get to come into one of my schools in my county and present deadly force. Because we meet deadly force with delay force, without one second, without hesitation,” Marceno said.
“If you think you’re going to come and kill a child or a faculty member: Think again. We will kill you immediately.”
This is the same message he sent, it’s worth noting, during a news conference after the Uvalde shooting:
You don’t get to shoot our children. You bring deadly force in this county, we are going to kill you. pic.twitter.com/bYVnNT5FSl
— Carmine Marceno – Florida’s Law and Order Sheriff (@SheriffLeeFL) May 27, 2022
The problem, as we now know, is that police in Uvalde, Texas didn’t immediately act to kill the shooter.
This was clear from early on, as video quickly emerged on social media of parents begging officers to go into the school and storm the classroom where the gunman had locked himself in.
While officials had originally said a school officer exchanged gunfire with Ramos, as KHOU-TV in Houston noted, that narrative quickly evaporated. By Wednesday, officials said the report could no longer be confirmed.
On Saturday, the Houston Chronicle published a timeline of the events as they’re currently known. The short version: While the first 911 call about a shooter at Robb Elementary School was placed at 11:30 a.m. and there were numerous officers in the hallway of the school by 12 p.m. (up to 19 at one point), officers didn’t enter the room until 12:50 p.m.
The reason? Officers were apparently waiting for more backup and heavy tactical equipment, believing Ramos was barricaded inside.
On 40 minute delay in police engaging the suspect inside Robb Elementary School, officials say, “a decision was made that this was a barricaded subject…there was time to retrieve the keys.”
— ABC News (@ABC) May 27, 2022
However, police received several 911 calls from children in the classrooms saying that Ramos was actively shooting people. One of the callers, at 12:16 p.m., stated eight or nine people were still alive. Despite this, there was no move to enter the classrooms on the part of police for over half an hour.
According to The New York Times, Texas protocols for school shooters state that an “officer’s first priority is to move in and confront the attacker. This may include bypassing the injured and not responding to cries for help from children.”
In Uvalde, officers bypassed all of their priorities.
Say what you will about a 10-year-old being given a perp walk: That message, at the very least, is much better than the one sent in Texas just days earlier. Police need to move on red flags. Failing that, they need to move on an active attacker.
Uvalde proved that forever.