CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - A violent social media threat against a high school in Coral Springs landed a 17-year-old student behind bars and rocked a community still reeling from the mass shooting in Parkland.
Coral Springs Police arrested Tyler Ahrens on Tuesday, the same day the threat against J.P. Taravella High School was made as a comment on YouTube.
The teen is facing a second-degree felony charge for making a written threat.
According to police, the comment read, “I want to be a professional school shooter… (no sarcasm, Broward county, Florida) J.P. Taravella HS is my target, tomorrow. I’M LEGIT NOT JOKING AROUND! SPREAD MY MESSAGE!!!!”
Police said the comment was then edited by someone with the username “Sharp Shooter” to read: “For who ever is reading this, I will be shooting up my high school in broward county Fl. Tomorrow afternoon at 12:00 when school starts. Round 2. J.P. Taravella HS! (I am legit, make my presence known).”
Authorities said they caught wind of Ahrens’ alleged plan when someone in California saw the alarming post and called police.
Officers identified Ahrens as the person behind the “Sharp Shooter” username, and showed up at his home to make contact with him and his parents.
Police said Ahrens confessed to making the YouTube threats, telling them he was just joking and would not carry out the threat. The agency said firearms were in the home, which the teen’s father secured.
Area residents were shocked to hear about the disturbing post.
“What kind of person thinks about shooting up a school full of kids?” said Caleb Thomas.
“My son goes to Taravella, so it hits home for me,” said Desmond McMullen.
A 7News crew stopped by the teen’s home off McNab Road in Tamarac, but they were kicked off the property by a man who claimed to be the building’s manager.
“Turn your camera off and get out of here, please,” he said. “Leave the family alone and let them deal with this.”
Ahrens’ post is the latest in a series of online threats made since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed 17 lives.
Last month, a 10th-grader at Stoneman Douglas was arrested for posting threats on Snapchat against a fellow classmate. The post read, “Anyone know Josh at Stoneman Douglas? He’s light skin and wears Gucci glasses and jeans that look like a 4 year old drew on ’em hmu.”
That student then posted a photo showing what appears to be a handgun tucked into his waistband with the caption, “Catch me out here [n-word].”
Police arrested the teen, and he underwent a psychiatric evaluation.
On Feb. 27, a pipe bomb was found inside a Pompano Beach home after teenage boy made online threats to kill students while playing video games.
When asked for comment, his father replied, “Get the [expletive] out of my yard.”
On Feb. 16, an 11-year-old girl at Nova Middle School was arrested after, police said, she placed a note under the assistant principal’s door that said she was going to bring a gun to school and shoot students.
Also in February, a 17-year-old in Sunrise posted a picture on Snapchat that said Piper High School was next.
As for this most recent online threat, concerned citizens are thankful it was stopped in its tracks.
“You don’t know if that will be your child that gets shot up,” said McMullen.
“If he’s any threat at all, we can’t be allowing him any access to his victims,” said Thomas.
“Regardless if it was a joke or for attention, whatever it was, it was in bad taste, and it shouldn’t have been said,” said McMullen.
In terms of the felony charge Ahrens is facing, the statute was recently amended under the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” which calls for harsher criminal penalties for individuals who make threats to schools via social media.
“We can’t risk people’s lives,” said Thomas.
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