Student accused of making death threat apologizes
MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Just days after a massacre that shocked the nation, a South Florida student accused of something stunning is telling his side of the story.
"Everything was taken out of context, and it looks bad on my part now," said 16-year-old Austin Lee Bowlin.
Bowlin was suspended from Miami Lakes Educational Center Monday after, Miami-Dade Police said, he threatened to shoot classmates at his school via his Twitter account. Police arrested him on that morning, at the school, and charged him with writing or making threats to injure or cause bodily injury.
He said he never meant the words that he tweeted, but police are saying there are consequences in everyone's behavior. "This is my first time ever getting in trouble, and it's my last," Bowlin said.
He is doing some back-peddling now after his tweets landed him in jail. One read: "finna shoot up the school this friday. Prepare your selfs [sic]."
In another message he posted via his Twitter account, Bowlin stated he was "making a list and checking it twice. We're about to see who gets shot up real nice," according to the arrest report.
The messages came in the wake of Friday's mass shooting by a 20-year-old gunman in Connecticut, which left 26 children, teachers and school administrators dead at an elementary school. "I can understand why they would be upset," Bowlin said, "but at the same time I want them to understand that I'm 16."
According to Bowlin, he was reacting to his principal's morning announcements to assure students' of their safety after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. "I was upset about how people were treating the incident and joking about it," Bowlin said.
In another tweet, Bowlin also stated: "Yeah, a bunch of little kids died. I could care less. And my school announced it like it matters. safe? I could shoot this school up easily."
"I meant that I can care less about what everyone was saying about it," clarified Bowlin. "The point is I could have went to school, and I could have done the same thing. That's how serious it was and that people need to stop making fun of it."
Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta said, "These type of threats are going to be taken very, very seriously. Anytime that anybody threatens a school or any children or students, we're immediately going to take action on it."
"I think people are crazy," commented a student.
Calvin Leno is concerned about anyone who uses such language lightly. "I think it's hard to believe somebody would even mention something about shooting kids and what's going on in America right now. It's very sensitive."
Bradleigh Hines, a friend of the suspect, defended him, saying this is his way of acting edgy. "He just does it for the attention. I know that." she said. "He would never ... He's the sweetest kid I know. He doesn't even like guns."
Because of his social media rant, Bowlin has been suspended from class and could face expulsion. "I want to finish high school," he said. "The point is, I messed up a lot of things in my life that I regret a lot. I learned my lesson, so I hope that everyone can learn their lesson too."
Bowlin remains in home detention. On Wednesday, the state will present its evidence and witnesses to see if he will stay in that home detention status. But one thing is clear: he will not be returning to Miami Lakes Educational Center.
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