A South Florida family says more should have been done when their son was threatened by another teen while they played the popular online video game Fortnite, while the other family claims the threats were harmless.
In a video recording of the game Fortnite, a 13-year-old student from Westglades Middle School in Parkland tells another teenage boy, “I’m not bringing a weapon to school unless they try and hurt my dad.”
“And I’ll gladly go to jail, and I’ll kill myself in jail,” he is heard saying.
His remarks prompted an investigation by the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the school district. Deputies even checked his house for weapons. The school determined the boy was not a threat to anybody and claims it “implemented appropriate interventions and continues to monitor the situation.”
The teen’s father, Jason Ruppert, told NBC 6 that his son’s comments were not an actual threat, but rather “trash talk” to a family they have history with. Ruppert says the victim’s mother is his ex-wife’s best friend.
“That was bad,” Ruppert said. “… But I truly think if we all think about it, we’ve all threatened to kill somebody out of anger, a friend, a fist fight. This is nothing more than that.”
Ruppert’s son was not suspended or expelled but was given a verbal warning about the troubles of social media. Ruppert said his son has learned his lesson.
But the victim’s family does not want the incident to be swept under the rug. In a letter to Westglades Middle School, the family’s attorney criticizes the school for classifying the Fortnite threat as “low-level.”
“This letter is to put the school on notice, that if the offending student is allowed to attend the same classes as (redacted), have lunch in the same location, be allowed to have access to (redacted), and any harm befalls of him, I will be holding the school responsible,” wrote Bradford Cohen.
The attorney declined to provide comment to NBC 6, saying the video speaks for itself.
BSO says there were 691 threats against the county’s public schools since the Parkland shooting last year, which is more than the last two years combined.