(NewsNation) — A Florida sheriff is defending his office’s decision to arrest a fifth-grade student, release his mug shot and force the child to do a perp walk after an alleged school threat.
Investigators became aware of the threats reportedly made by the boy via text message Saturday and arrested him. In a video on YouTube, a deputy can be seen walking the 10-year-old to a police car.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said the sheriff’s office school threat enforcement team researched the threat before detectives interviewed the boy and developed probable cause for his arrest. The child attends a school in Cape Coral, an area near Fort Meyers on the Gulf Coast.
The alleged threat comes after a gunman opened fire on an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults.
“This student’s behavior is sickening, especially after the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,” the sheriff said.
A guest of NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live” on Tuesday, Marceno defended his decision to arrest the child and said the situation would have been handled the same way prior to the Uvalde school shooting.
“In light of what’s happened, but even before this, it would have been treated the same exact way. I have 100,000 kids that go to school in my county, and that’s 100,000 parents that want and trust in their sheriff and the sheriff’s office, that they want to kiss their son or daughter goodbye, that they’re going to return safely. That’s my top priority.
“So when someone makes that threat, it’s going to be consistent, zero tolerance. And anyone that does, we are going to show exactly who they are. There are the red flags that we will not ignore, and we’re going to be consistent with that message. We’re not playing games,” the sheriff said.
Marceno conceded that the last thing his office wants to do is place a child in handcuffs, but added that decisions sometimes come with consequences.
“I’d rather not be discussing what took place, and I’d rather it never happened. I went on a begging spree to ask parents .. to sit with their children and tell them, you make choices and decisions in life and there are consequences,” the sheriff said.
The child was charged with making a written threat to conduct a mass shooting. Investigators have not said if the boy is detained at a juvenile facility or if he has been released to his family.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.