Florida boy arrested after hoax 911 call about school shooting so he could ‘go home early’


An 11-year-old boy was arrested this week for allegedly making a hoax 911 call about a school shooter that prompted law enforcement to respond and the evacuation of the building.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said it received the call Tuesday around 9:39 a.m. about Horizon Academy in Ocala, Florida.

Following a search, authorities determined there weren’t “any armed assailants, weapons, or injured students or staff,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post Thursday.

An investigation later revealed that a student had allegedly made the call because “he wanted to go home early,” the sheriff’s office said. NBC News generally does not name minors accused of crimes.

“This student put fear into his fellow students, staff, and parents,” Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. “For what? A prank? Because you wanted to go home? I will not tolerate my young citizens being fearful of going to school because you wanted to be a ‘jokester’ in hopes of going home.”

In audio of the 911 call released by the sheriff’s office, the boy tells the dispatcher: “Help me. There’s a shooter walking through the hallway.”

He tells the dispatcher the name of the school and says he’s in “building two.” When the dispatcher tries to get more information, he says, “He’s coming. He’s coming.” The line then disconnects.

The sheriff’s office said it sent all available deputies to the school. When they arrived, the school resource officer had not heard anything about there being a shooter in the building, “but, as a precaution, the school was placed on lockdown,” according to authorities.

“MCSO deputies, detectives, SWAT, Aviation, and K-9s responded. Officers from the Ocala Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol, and other state and federal law enforcement agencies did as well,” the sheriff’s office said. “A complete search of the school was conducted, which concluded there weren’t any armed assailants, weapons, or injured students or staff.”

During the search, all school functions were halted and students and staff were visibly afraid, according to the agency.

Authorities said the boy had told a friend that he wanted to go home early, and when the friend walked away and left his cellphone unattended, the 11-year-old used it to call 911.

He was arrested on charges of making a false report of a mass shooting, using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, disruption of a school function, and misuse of a 911 emergency system, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff said that under the law, a person who makes a false report has to pay restitution for the cost of the law enforcement response.

“Which, in this case, will equal hundreds upon hundreds of man-hours. This young man is going to need to mow a lot of lawns to pay that bill,” he said.