A 17-year-old student has been arrested after threatening to carry out a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – the scene of the 2018 Parkland school shooting where 17 people were killed.
Oliver Manik, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) in Broward County, was arrested after he made the threat in a social media group chat when students involved in the chat reported him to the authorities according to a school spokesperson.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) quoted Manik as saying: ‘I feel like school shooting tomorrow. When I sneeze, it’s a signal go to the bathroom. Okay? And I hope y’all aren’t snitches.’
Students reported the threat to the BSO at 11am local time on Wednesday, and detectives located Manik on Thursday and promptly arrested him, according to BSO spokeswoman Claudinne Caro.
It comes less than two months after Nikolas Cruz, who massacred 14 students and three teachers at the high school with an AR15 in February 2018, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and attempted murder, and apologised to the victim’s families.
Now 23, Cruz is awaiting sentencing in the state which still carries the death penalty.
Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 15, 2018 in Parkland, FL following a school shooting carried out by Nikolas Cruz (file pic)
The Parkland school shooting in 2018 triggered widespread protests across the US, most notably in Washington DC which saw tens of thousands of people descend on the streets in support of gun control (Washington DC, March 2018)
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz (L) pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and attempted murder in the 2018 school shooting at a Florida courthouse on October 20, 2021
MSD Principal Michelle Kefford on Thursday morning delivered a message to students’ parents via a recorded message to notify them of the threat and that an arrest had been made.
‘This morning, we became aware of a threatening message posted on social media regarding our school. The Broward Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with Broward County Public Schools Special Investigative Unit, immediately investigated the threat and made an arrest.
‘I want to thank everyone for their roles in safely resolving this situation. I also want to remind all students and families how seriously any and all threats are taken.
‘Parents, please speak with your children to remind them that any threat – even if they think it is a joke – will result in serious consequences.
Nikolas Cruz’s statement to victims and their families during guilty plea on October 20
‘I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day.
‘And that if I were to get a second chance I would do everything in my power to help others.
‘And I am doing this for you and I do not care if you do not believe me. And I love you and I know you don’t believe me but I have to live with this every day and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes.
‘But I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do.
‘I hate drugs and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets.
‘I’m sorry and I can’t even watch TV anymore.
‘And I’m trying my best to maintain my composure right now. I just want you to know I’m really sorry and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others.
‘I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go – whether I live or die – not the jury’s. I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.’
‘In Florida, a threat made against a school is a second-degree felony. Students also face school disciplinary measures as outlined in the Code Book for Student Conduct, including expulsion.
‘School safety is all of our responsibility. If you see something – say something. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at 754 322 2150.’
Cruz meanwhile awaits sentencing for murdering 17 people at MSD high school in February 2018.
Now 23, Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the ‘premeditated’ killings, the Broward State’s Attorney Office said in court documents.
At the plea hearing on October 20, 2021, Cruz told the judge he was experiencing ‘anxiety,’ which she then said was ‘normal under the circumstances’.
He told Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that he understood that he would, in the best case scenario, spend life in prison or be sentenced to death, and would not be allowed to appeal his sentence.
The gun violence on February 14, 2018, left 14 students and three staff dead and 17 others injured.
At the hearing, Cruz asked whether he could address the victims and their families, who were pictured in court wearing shirts, pendants and jewellery in honour of their late loved ones.
‘May I take off my mask?’ he asked before saying: ‘I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it everyday.
‘If I were to get a second chance I would do everything in my power to help others.
‘I do not care if you don’t believe me,’ he told the court, adding that he now gets ‘nightmares sometimes… and can’t even watch TV anymore.’
‘I know it’s your decision to decide whether I live or die,’ he said to the judge.
‘What I meant was that I believe that they should have the right to choose – the victims – whether I take life or death,’ Cruz added, although he clarified to the judge that he understands the law, which says a jury will decide Cruz’s fate.
If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide. In Florida, all 12 jurors must agree on the punishment.
Judge Scherer is scheduled to begin jury selection on January 4.
‘I know that you don’t believe me,’ Cruz said to the court as he stared down at the podium, adding that he now ‘gets nightmares sometimes and can’t even watch TV anymore’
Cruz told Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer (pictured) that he understood that he would, in the best case scenario, spend life in prison or be sentenced to death, and would not be allowed to appeal his sentence
Fifteen-year-old victim Luke Hoyer’s mother Gena (right) was pictured hugging Debbie Hixon, whose husband was the athletic director at the school in 2018 when he was shot dead
Anthony Borges, a then-15-year-old Stoneman Douglas student who was grievously wounded in the attack, was also seen at the court hearing.
He was shot five times – twice in his right leg, once in his left leg and twice in his torso – while using his body as a human shield to protect 20 other students as they fled the school.
He told reporters afterwards that he accepted Cruz’s apology and noted that it was not up to him to determine the killer’s fate.
Borges said outside of the courthouse: ‘He made a decision to shoot the school. I am not God to make the decision to kill him or not. That’s not my decision.
‘My decision is to be a better person and to change the world for every kid. I don’t want this to happen to anybody again. It hurts. It hurts. It really hurts. So, I am just going to keep going. That’s it.’
Anthony Borges (left and right after the 2018 attack) was a 15-year-old Stoneman Douglas student when Cruz shot him five times – twice in his right leg, once in his left leg and twice in his torso. Borges was using his body as a shield as 20 students fled the building when he was grievously wounded. He attended the court hearing on Wednesday morning