A 10-year-old boy is being held in a detention centre after sending a friend a text referencing handguns, which authorities took to be a threat to stage a school shooting.
Daniel Marquez, from Florida, was detained for 21 days by a judge last weekend when he was charged with making a written threat.
Authorities allege Daniel sent three messages suggesting he was plotting a shooting at Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral where he is a pupil.
But Douglas Molloy, Daniel’s lawyer, insists the messages, which were sent just came just four days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, have been taken out of context, the Daily Mail reports.
Daniel’s nightmare began when the dad of the boy he had been messaging reported the texts to Lee County Sheriff’s Department, which then decided to unleash the full force of the law on the elementary school honor student.
Authorities say he sent a message saying: ‘I bought this,’ along with an image of four assault rifles, before sending another text saying: ‘Get ready for water day’.
After arresting Daniel, Lee County Sheriff’s Office released his name, mugshot and footage of him being hauled off by deputies with the warning that ‘fake threats’ result in ‘real consequences.’
He is now understood to be being held at Collier County Juvenile Detention Center in Naples some 55 miles from his home, DailyMail.com reports.
In a radio interview Carmine Marceno, Lee County Sheriff said his team did not ‘wait one second,’ adding, ‘We investigate every threat as if it’s real.’
‘I did a campaign,’ he said.
‘Fake threat, real consequence.
‘While I understand the boy is 10 years old, his brain’s not fully developed. He’s a juvenile.
‘I have to tell you: “When a 10-year-old presses a trigger, the aftermath is the same regardless of the age”,’ the sheriff explained.
However, Mr Molloy, who is fighting for Daniel’s release, insists the texts were a child-like attempt at humour.
‘Based on a review of what has been supplied to me, Daniel was texting a friend and they were going back and forth, a stream of texts about a variety of subjects,’ Molloy told DailyMail.com.
‘And within that was what I can only call an attempt at humour – but fifth-grader humour.
‘He made an unfortunate reference to assault rifles, but only in some joking way, not related to any kind of attack on a school.’
Mr Molloy said the next conversation the pair had was ‘a little removed in time’ and was about how excited the boy was for the Water Day celebrations which mark the end of school year.
‘There was no reference tying the two things together. Somewhere in there was supposed to be something funny,’ he added.
‘He didn’t directly say he was going to shoot up a school.
‘It is drawing a conclusion. There’s further conversation, back and forth about Water Day and the events.
‘But nothing, absolutely nothing related to shooting it up or referencing the guns.’
Dereck Marquez, Daniel’s dad was reportedly not allowed to accompany his son in the Sheriff’s car when he was arrested and instead met his son at the sheriff’s station.
He has declined to talk to the media.
Mr Molloy said Daniel had been ‘crying all day’ after he was arrested.
‘I have reached out to the state attorney’s office and we will be talking about possible release,’ he added.
‘My job is to get him out and to get him his life back – to not have everyone in that 10-year-old’s life look at him differently, forever.
‘To have people still look at him as the honour student he is – and that this was tragic collateral damage amid the cancer that pervades American society at this time.’
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