Family says Lee County sixth-grader with autism didn’t write email threat

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:

A sixth-grader will not have charges filed against him after he was arrested and accused of making threats. The attorney for the student says he has autism and says he didn’t understand what he had done wrong.

A Three Oaks Middle School teacher recently found a threatening email sent by one of her students, who wrote that he would bring a gun to school and harm other students. After further investigation, the student’s mom was able to speak up for her son and showed investigators that, while the email looked like it came from his account, he didn’t write it.

The student’s family says it’ll take time for him to heal.

“He stayed the night in jail,” relative Kimberly Green said. “He shouldn’t have to stay in jail. He’s a special needs child, so that’s not acceptable.”

The family attorney told us he has been bullied at school. They believe someone gained access to his email account.

“It’s not a prank. It’s not funny,” Green said. “You do unto others as you happen to do unto you, and it’s dangerous.”

A comparison between the student’s normal emails and the one sent to the teacher likely changed the case. His family’s attorney says he doesn’t use spaces when typing.

But the emailed threat had spaces in it.

“They found five different computers,” Green said. “He is not capable of having access to any of those computers.”

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office report, the student’s statement is redacted. But the sheriff’s office told us he was arrested because of the email account, the determination he was cognitively capable of discussing the incident and admitting guilt.

The family wonders if he truly understood what was happening in that moment.

“The thing about it is, if you were to take a look at him, he has the body of a 12-year-old. He’s the height of a 12-year-old, but his mentality level is at 5 years old,” Green said.

Green hopes other children learn from this and the bullying stops.

“You have to teach your children about autism awareness,” Green said.

LCSO says it has a second potential suspect.

We reached out to the court for comment but have not heard back.

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