By Kevin Deutsch
Coral Springs Police have arrested and charged an 18-year-old female student at J.P. Taravella High School with multiple felonies for allegedly threatening to commit a school shooting, police said Friday.
Catrina Petit allegedly sent the threat online using another student’s name while accessing that student’s computer, police said.
The threat, which did not name a specific school, was later posted on social media and caused concerns over potential school shootings in numerous school districts across South Florida.
Investigators from the Coral Springs Police Department’s and the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Threat Management Units worked to trace the threat back to Petit, authorities said.
Part of the threat Petit allegedly sent read, “I will shoot up the school and kill every student here. Tomorrow morning? Friday at 2:40 p.m. as the bell rings. But who knows. I may do it during the day or after the school day or in between classes. All I know is that everyone must die. Spread this message.”
The charges filed against Petit were not immediately made public.
The arrest was announced the same day officials announced a new security policy in Broward County Public Schools.
Beginning Aug. 21 – the first day of the 2023/24 school year – BCPS students will only be allowed to carry clear backpacks and bags on school campuses.
The security measure, which applies to all grades from pre-K–12, is “an additional layer of security being added to the District’s ongoing safety and security efforts,” district officials said in a written announcement.
“Providing safe learning environments that are conducive to student learning is of the highest importance, not just for Broward County Public Schools but for school districts across the nation,” said BCPS Interim Superintendent Earlean Smiley. “This added layer of security is a game-changer. It will allow school security personnel and everyone on campus to quickly spot and report if someone has brought a prohibited item to school, and it will also help serve as a deterrent.”
Only clear, see-through backpacks and bags – including lunch boxes, purses, duffel bags, and fanny packs – will be allowed on school campuses for all pre-K – 12. Mesh and colored backpacks will not be permitted, even if they are transparent, officials said.
Threats of school shootings, lockdowns, and law enforcement responses to BCPS campuses have become more prevalent in recent years amid heightened concerns following the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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