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Former Florida state employee’s son arrested for alleged school threats

<i>Rebekah Jones for Congress</i><br/>The 13-year-old son of Rebekah Jones was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening a shooting at a middle school.
Rebekah Jones for Congress
The 13-year-old son of Rebekah Jones was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening a shooting at a middle school.

By Steve Contorno, CNN

The 13-year-old son of Rebekah Jones, who claimed she was fired for refusing to manipulate state Covid-19 data while working in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ state Health Department, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening a shooting at a middle school.

The boy, whom CNN is not naming because he is a minor, was charged with written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism, a second-degree felony, according to a warrant issued by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.

In security camera video at the sheriff’s office, obtained by CNN, Jones can be seen accompanying the boy to the sheriff’s office on Wednesday afternoon, where he surrendered.

Thursday evening, Jones, who has a sizable online following, tweeted, “My son is home with me now and sleeping.”

She suggested, without evidence, that her son’s arrest was related to a lawsuit she filed on March 13 in Leon County, Florida, against the Florida Department of Health and a former supervisor, under the state whistleblower act, seeking to get her job back, lost wages and damages for her treatment as an employee.

A spokeswoman for DeSantis referred questions about the arrest “to the diligent law enforcement of Santa Rosa Sheriff’s office.”

Jones noted in a tweet that the sheriff’s office began investigating her son shortly after she filed the lawsuit. She claimed on Twitter that her son had sent “just memes” to his friends that she says were not threatening.

But, according to police reports, multiple students at a Navarre, Florida, middle school told police that Jones’ son had told people he planned a school shooting and posted threatening memes and messages on Snapchat and Discord. One student told police that the boy told her on Discord he wanted to end his life and shoot up the school.

After issuing a search warrant, officers said they found messages in February from the boy’s Snapchat account referencing guns and the Columbine High School massacre and plans to shoot and stab people at the school.

During an interview with police on March 23, the boy told police he did not intend to carry out the shooting and police did not find any guns at his home. Jones told police the boy no longer attended the school and was being home schooled, according to police documents.

CNN has reached out to the sheriff’s office for additional information on the case.

Jones in 2020 accused the DeSantis administration of trying to cover up the extent of the pandemic and firing her for refusing to falsify numbers to minimize the scale of the outbreak. Last year, a state inspector general report said her claims were “unsubstantiated” and Covid-19 data was not falsified.

Jones publicly shared the story of her dismissal before leaving the department in May 2020 and became a prominent online critic of DeSantis. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year against Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.

In December 2020, state police executed a search warrant at Jones’ home while investigating whether she accessed a state messaging system without authorization to call for state officials to speak out about Covid-19 deaths. She was ultimately charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices. In December, Jones agreed to admit guilt and pay a $20,000 fee in a pretrial deferred prosecution agreement.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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