“Cruel prank”: Officials confirm Florida Mainland High School shooting scare was a hoax

Gun scare at Florida school was a "cruel prank", confirms police. (Image via Daytona Beach Police Department/Facebook)
Gun scare at Florida school was a "cruel prank", confirms police. (Image via Daytona Beach Police Department/Facebook)

On Friday, September 9, 2022, two groups of students of Mainland High School in Florida decided to play a "cruel prank" on the rest of the students and the administration. In what seemed like a carefully designed plan, the students decided to capitalize on the ever-present fear of gun violence and claimed that one of them owned a firearm.

According to the Florida school, the elaborate shooting scare happened a day after a threat was found written on a bathroom stall. A couple of students were interrogated regarding the threat but denied involvement. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that there was no threat to the safety of the school. Police believe the students took advantage of the threat to spread panic further.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Daytona Beach Police Department explained that after thorough investigations of security videos, identifying people, and conducting interviews, they have established that it was a hoax. Elaborating on the incident as seen in the videos, Daytona Beach PD said:

"The groups can clearly be seen on video, getting into specific positions and locations within the cafeteria, timing their actions. Several female students walk towards the school administrator laughing and smiling, all the way, up until they reached the administrator, at which point one of the females tells the administrator that someone had a gun. At this same time, one of the male kids, already positioned near the exit to the cafeteria, waited until the female student made the statement, then looked at her and ran out of the building, causing a large crowd to follow him."

Police have further said that at no point did the students in question act like they observed a gun or flinched like one usually would when shots are fired. Contrary to posts made on social media, no one is seen standing on top of a table with a gun in the videos.

"Video of these individuals prior to and during the incident shows that neither the male nor the female students observed a gun or flinched as you would expect when shots had just been fired. At no time in the video, does anyone stand on a table and present a gun, or fire shots as some people have posted."

Florida police have labeled the incident a "cruel prank" played by groups of students who now face pending second-degree felony charges for making a false report concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner. They also risk expulsion from the school.

Florida school prank deemed 'cruel' as State witnesses Parkland shooter's penalty trial

With reminders of the tragic Parkland school shooting, it's no surprise that last week's insensitive prank at Mainland High School in Florida has led to strong reactions.

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to murdering 17 students and staff members in 2018, is currently facing trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The trial will determine his punishment - a death sentence or life without parole.

Lead prosecutor Mike Satz's case included security videos of the deadly shooting and testimonies by affected students and parents of the deceased. To counter that, assistant public defender Melisa McNeill and her team have made Cruz's history their case's focal point in hopes that at least one judge would vote for a life sentence, thus making the death sentence null and void.

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Edited by Sayati Das