School Threats Surge in Miami-Dade County


Maria Odio

In the span of less than two weeks, five students have been arrested for threatening to bomb or shoot up their schools.

Maria Odio, Staff Writer

In the span of fewer than two weeks, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools department and Miami-Dade Police Department have had to investigate over a dozen threats involving school shootings and bombings. Additionally, they have had to arrest at least five students for allegedly making the threats and causing disruption and fear to spread across Miami-Dade schools.

Among the arrested perpetrators was a 17-year-old student who attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Douglas High is the location where the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre took place, so when officials heard about the student allegedly making threats in a social media chat room, they were immediately arrested.

The following week, a 15-year-old Miami Senior High student who had never had any major disciplinary complications prior to this situation was also arrested. Despite having an otherwise clean record, Jonathan Grisales posted a threat on his Instagram that was later reposted across various social media platforms.

Other students across Miami-Dade took the opportunity to alter the original post with their own schools’ names, resulting in widespread uncertainty for the safety of each school. Currently, Grisales is being charged with a felony for making written threats with the intent to kill or do bodily harm.

Grisales faced court on Dec. 6, when his attorney argued that there was no evidence to back up the claim that his client was the one to make the threat. However, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated that the student was identified via his Internet Protocol Address that was located with the help of the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dec. 6 was also the date on which Grisales allegedly planned his attack for. As a result, many Miami High students made the decision to stay home that day.

“I believe it is ridiculous how students nowadays have to live in fear on their daily commute to school. By simply pursuing an education, young people like me have the possibility of dying due to some lunatic with a weapon. More protection must be in place for us students such as accelerated police response and mental help for people who may be at the breaking point of doing something as drastic as taking a life,” junior Pedro Castellon said.

Miami High’s threat was only one of many in MDCPS. At Northwestern Senior High, 16-year-old Tanecia McElliot was also arrested and is now facing felony charges for threatening to detonate explosives on the school campus with the intent to cause damage. Currently, McElliot is in the Miami-Dade Juvenile Assessment Center until her court hearing.

The same day, 17-year-old Keith Clayton posted a message on social media threatening to blow up his school at Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior High. The following day, Clayton was arrested along with a 14-year-old-girl who attended G. Holmes Braddock Senior High.

Some of the dozen or so other schools that were threatened in Miami-Dade County included Coral Reef High, Palmetto Senior High and Christopher Columbus High. Statements were issued by the schools stating that there was no credible threat to students and faculty members.

The Miami-Dade Police Department has issued their own statement as well announcing that they will be working alongside the MDCPS police department to investigate all threats. The department will also increase police presence at several schools as a safety precaution.

“I think that those making these threats are taking advantage of the chaos and fear caused by this shooting in a really twisted way. It’s not okay and I am really grateful that Miami Dade county is taking these threats seriously and is making sure that those who made these threats are receiving appropriate punishment,” sophomore Emily Kardjian said.

Additionally, the recent surge in school threats has spread to Broward County. On Dec. 5, Broward investigators were informed about a threat at Deerfield Beach Middle. The 12-year-old perpetrator is awaiting possible charges from the State Attorney General’s Office.

On Dec. 9 at Walter C. Young Middle, another 12-year-old student was discovered with a slingshot, four knives and two rocks by the police. This seventh-grader was taken to the Broward Juvenile Assessment Center and is facing felony charges for possessing weapons on school property.

Although some of these investigations are still ongoing, most threats have turned out to be hoaxes. Regardless, hesitancy remains when it comes to the question of whether these threats will continue to spread throughout South Florida school districts.