As long as clowns have existed, people have had a love-hate relationship with them, but before this summer, the U.S. had never before seen such overwhelming fear and distrust for the sometimes creepy figures. However, authorities are on high alert for clowns, and one 12-year-old boy now faces a 15-year prison sentence for allegedly creating a fake social media account as a clown and threatening a Florida middle school.
Bradley Prescott is a Pasco County middle school student who could go to jail for more years than he has even been alive after the threats he allegedly made online. The threats were of a fiercely chilling nature, and they were clearly designed to scare.
Florida Authorities arrested Prescott, and he was charged as an adult. The charge of terroristic threatening leveled against the boy is a second-degree felony.
In light of the recent clown attacks, authorities all over the United States have been urging citizens to err on the side of caution in any clown-related dealings, even as Halloween approaches, and it seems that the Pasco Sheriff’s Office is attempting to send a message with this case. The threat that Bradley Prescott allegedly sent was made via the social media app musical.ly, and deputies were called in Monday night to investigate “an online threat made toward Seven Springs Middle School with an image of a clown.” The creepy clown sent a message which threatened death to the students.
“Hello I am going to kill kids at SEVEN SPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL on Friday the 7th of October 2016 GET READY 6th graders for your worst day and your last!!”
WTSP wrote that when the 12-year-old was questioned about the threats, Bradley told the officers that he thought it was funny and had done it as a joke. The investigation into the boy showed no evidence that he had planned to carry out those threats. Nonetheless, many residents are hard-pressed to see the funny in that message, especially the ones who have children attending Pasco’s Seven Springs Middle School.
There are those who argue, however, that the student was simply copying from the unprecedented amount of threats of attacks that schools have been receiving from clowns lately, and he does not deserve to go to jail.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco does not agree with these views, however, and he believes that all threats against the lives of students should be taken seriously. According to NBC affiliate, WFLA, Nocco expressed his opinion on the matter at the press conference when he announced that the 12-year-old would be charged as an adult, and this is why the possibility of a 15-year sentence exists.
The sheriff also spoke passionately on the subject of actions having consequences.
“The fear is not going to be tolerated in this county. And so a child has been arrested today and a warning is still going out there. If anybody wants to go down this path … threaten to kill kids … threaten to shoot up a school … threaten to shoot up anywhere … the Pasco Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance. If you threaten people in our community that line in the sand is drawn.”
Tampa attorney and former state prosecutor for the juvenile division, John Castro, also offered his views on the charges brought against Bradley Prescott, and whether or not the punishment fits the crime. The attorney said that he has seen first-hand how one bad decision can set a child’s life on a path they regret for the rest of their lives. Castro also went on to say that before the boy actually faces those charges, a more in-depth review of his behavior and school records will take place.
In the end, the decision of whether or not to try the little boy as an adult for a crime which evidence suggests he did not intend to carry out will be made by the state attorney and a judge.
Castro also said that he thinks this can be a great learning moment for parents as well as students in this online world.
“I think it’s important to educate kids now more than ever that things online are not anonymous and are not a joke and if you make serious threats it is something that is going to be taken seriously.”
[Featured Image by Ryan Jorgensen – Jorgo/ Shutterstock]