(WSVN) - Since the Parkland shooting, school administrators have been understandably on edge. But a student with autism says he was unfairly targeted. And experts say he’s not the only one. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.
Look in Erek Colon’s bedroom, and you can tell right away — he’s obsessed with wrestling.
Erek Colon, not allowed back to school: “I love it a lot, like from the posters, to all the games, to everything.”
When the 11th-grader is not in school, he spends most of his time creating wrestling characters … and narrating play-by-play.
Erek is on the autism spectrum — and wrestling games are his outlet.
But one of the videos he made got him kicked out of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale.
Erek Colon: “I was absolutely devastated. The moment I heard her tell me that I could no longer go to the school, it’s like time stopped.”
The wrestling character Erek created is named “Assassin Erek.”
And he posted this video to Twitter on Valentine’s Day.
Wrestling video, Erek’s voice: “You do not want the Chaos Dealer, the assassin, the villain. You do not want the Switch Blade pissed off on Friday.”
While parts of the two-minute video sound violent, it is clearly about wrestling.
But someone edited the video, took out the wrestling references and animations and posted this on social media.
Edited hoax video: “For those of you who decide to [expletive] with me on Friday, you’re just signing your own death certificate.”
The caption says: “Everyone that goes to Gibbons, I don’t know if this is real or fake, but don’t take it lightly please.”
It was sent to school administrators, and Erek was told not to come back to Cardinal Gibbons.
Tomika Fykes, Erek’s mother: “They weren’t interested in seeing the real video. They were only interested in the video that they had in their possession, which was the hoax video.”
Police investigated and wrote in a report, “It is the professional opinion of this detective, with 25 years of experience as a Fort Lauderdale Police officer, that the audio recordings Erek Colon posted were not threats against Cardinal Gibbons High School or any of their faculty or students.”
The detective said because the video was posted the same day as the Parkland tragedy, it was “taken out of context.”
Tomika Fykes: “They should have taken into consideration what the officers had to say.”
Despite police finding no credible threat, Erek’s mom says Cardinal Gibbons will not allow him to come back to school. The private school did not respond to our request for comment, but in a letter to parents said they followed safety protocols.
Experts at the University of Miami’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities weren’t surprised to hear Erek’s story.
Dr. Michael Alessandri, University of Miami: “The parents are calling in crisis because they’re worried that this shooting is now clouding other people’s judgment about who their children truly are, and who they knew them to be before.”
Students on the autism spectrum are often misinterpreted, but experts say pre-meditated violence is not associated with autism.
Erek Colon: “I’m a gentle, kind soul who is loved by everyone, and I love everyone back.”
Erek has been out of school for a month. He will have to finish high school someplace else.
The spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Miami which oversees the school released the following statement that reads in part, “The Archdiocese of Miami School officials would not discuss any aspects — including discipline ones — of their students, in particular those who are minors. In addition, I have been informed attorneys are now involved, again preventing any comments that may affect the outcome of legal discussions.”
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