'Help': Florida Boy Reports Fake School Shooting Because 'He Wanted to Go Home Early,' Arrested

Horizon Academy in Marion Oaks
Horizon Academy in Marion Oaks Facebook

Florida authorities arrested an 11-year-old boy who they accused of reporting a fake school shooting on December 5 because he wanted to leave school early.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that investigators discovered the boy made the false 911 report from a friend's cellphone when the friend left his cellphone unattended. Before placing the call, the boy told his friend he "wanted to go home early," the police said.

'Help...There is a School Shooter Walking Through the Hallway'

"All of this was a prank," the police statement said.

Sheriff's deputies arrested the boy on charges of a false report of a mass shooting, utilizing a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, disruption of a school function, and misuse of a 911 emergency system, the statement said.

In 911 audio released by police, a boy could be heard saying: "Help, there is a school shooter walking through the hallway."

When the 911 operator asked the boy what school it was, he said "Marion Oaks" and added that he was in "building two." When the dispatcher asked whether the child was referring to Marion Oaks Elementary or Marion Oaks High School, the boy did not directly answer. Instead, the boy said, "He's coming, he's coming" and hung up. The total released audio lasted 43 seconds.

The police responded to Horizon Academy in Marion Oaks after receiving the call at 9:39 a.m. on December 5 with a SWAT team, aviation unit, and K-9s, the statement said. During the evacuation and subsequent police search of the school, there were visible "fear levels" among students and teachers, the police said.

Police Placed the School on Lockdown Following the 911 Call

Authorities placed the school on lockdown in response to the call, but later that day announced that their units could not locate any threat to students and staff.

"This student put fear into his fellow students, staff, and parents," Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said. "For what? A prank? Because you wanted to go home?"

Woods said Florida law required those who are convicted of filing false reports 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," Woods said.