LITHIA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested a teenager Thursday suspected of making a fake claim about a gun being on campus at Barrington Middle School.
The announcement of the 15-year-old boy's arrest comes a day after the hoax prompted lockdowns at Barrington Middle School and Stower Elementary School.
"I can't say it enough how sick in my stomach I was as I pulled in here and saw the parents that were traumatized grabbing their kids grateful that they were still alive" said Sheriff Chad Chronister on Wednesday.
The teen, who attends Barrington Middle School, is charged with felony tampering with physical evidence, misdemeanor misuse of the 911 system, misdemeanor disruption of a school function and misdemeanor petit theft.
According to HCSO, the teen stole another student's cellphone on Wednesday afternoon and then made the hoax call to 911 with the stolen phone saying a friend in the bathroom had a gun. He hung up the phone as the 911 dispatcher was looking to get more information. The teen tossed the stolen phone into a toilet, HCSO said.
Chronister said during Wednesday's press conference that no student was hurt or in danger but that it felt just as real to them.
"These kids were traumatized today," he said. "The deputies, the school administrators were traumatized today because somebody wanted to make a phone call and report that someone another individual had a gun on campus.
Chronister urged parents to talk with their children about the consequences of fake school threats.
"This has become too real. Fake school threats have become too prevalent, and I've said this time after time, parents, I'm begging you sit down with your children, and explain to them the ramifications" he said.
Chronister says the caller sounded like "a young kid that was trying to disguise their voice."
"When we find this individual, he will be held responsible for this nightmare caused today,” Chronister said.
Parents were asked to wait for their kids at the Publix at 5655 Circa Fishhawk Boulevard in Lithia during the brief lockdown.