The family of a Virginia teenager who was falsely identified as a school shooter in a phone hoax wonder how the police reacted and the lack of punishment of the teens who set him up.
Dozens of police officers and several hundred concerned parents converged on Woodbridge High School last month when someone called 911 to report that a student was shooting at his classmates, naming a 15-year-old boy.
Tiffany Rice rushed to school like so many other parents, texting her son. She got a call from a detective saying her son was the one named as the shooter.
“I immediately said, ‘We don’t have any weapons in our home. He doesn’t have access to any guns or weapons, ”Rice said. “I don’t want the police to question him without me being there. “
She was quickly taken inside, but the interrogation was over, her son completely cleared.
“His body language was that he was scared,” Rice said. “I immediately gave him a kiss on his striker and told him I love him.”
That night at home she got the whole story.
“I said, ‘Tell me how you feel,’ and he said, ‘Mom, I was scared,'” Rice said tearfully.
He told her that after being removed from the classroom, he faced an officer in the hallway with a drawn gun. He was handcuffed and read his Miranda rights.
“If you wanted to interrogate him, do you really need to do all this for a 15 year old minor?” Rice said. “This is what I don’t understand, didn’t I understand was it really necessary? ”
Police said although they sympathize with the family, their actions were necessary, writing in part: “At the time of an active threat of violence, time is running out and it is essential for the safety of others that the police act. quickly.”
Police said the officer’s gun was only briefly drawn and not pointed at the student and he was only handcuffed for a few minutes.
Rice and her mother, Reverend Eloise Marshall, are even more upset that those involved in the planning and implementation of the hoax are not being severely punished. They have texts from two girls at school who they say planned the hoax and recruited a young man from New Jersey to make the call.
“They don’t deserve to be a Prince William County student,” Rice said.
“The punishment these kids are getting for doing this stuff doesn’t equate to the crime,” Marshall said. “These are crimes that these children are committing. ”
A spokeswoman for Prince William County Public Schools said they could not comment on disciplinary action taken against a particular student.
The person who carried out the hoax has not yet been charged. This matter is being handled by the New Jersey authorities.