A 17-year-old boy who brought a fake gun to school, with permission from his teacher, was imprisoned on terrorism charges.
According to CBS 4, Juan Valdez, 17, a senior at Hidalgo Early College High School in Texas was working on a school project in his forensic science class where he and classmates would investigate a mock crime scene. His teacher printed out a list of potential “evidence” for students to bring, such as fake guns, bullets, bones, broken glass, or body fluids. Valdez decided on his paintball gun.
According to Valdez, he made sure the gun was permissible. “My teacher said, yes, that’s fine,” he says. On March 28, the day before the project, Valdez walked into the school carrying the paintball gun to store in the classroom with the other pieces of evidence.
Before reaching the building, Valdez took a Snapchat video and a photo with a caption stating the gun was fake and for an approved class project.
But the principal and a police officer interrupted Valdez’s 5th-period class and brought him into an office. “They had me write a statement explaining what the gun was for, but they wouldn’t let me talk too much or call my mom,” Valdez tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They took my phone too.”
Valdez claims he was forced to delete his Snapchat photo and the video, although he inadvertently pressed save, enabling him to currently access the latter.
The boy was arrested and walked through campus wearing handcuffs. He spent two days in the Hidalgo County jail, alone in a small cell. “An officer said to me, ‘You shouldn’t have made those threats,'” Valdez said. “I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Valdez says he didn’t know that a classmate had edited his Snapchat photo caption to read, “We have a school shooter, everyone be safe!” with a Kermit the Frog image.
Valdez’s father told CBS 4 that he communicated with the student who allegedly edited the photo, and the boy wrote in a Facebook message, “Yes, it was my fault. Sorry for what I did. I didn’t expect it to get as big as it did.”
The Hidalgo Independent School District did not return multiple interview requests with Yahoo Lifestyle and the Hidalgo Police Department did not provide a police report to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Appropriate administrative action was taken against the teacher,” said Jennifer Villareal of Hidalgo I.S.D., according to CBS 4.
According to Valdez, the teacher, and the student who allegedly edited his photo were each suspended for two days.
Before he is allowed to re-enter school, Valdez says he must attend specialized classes for 15 days. “It’s strict there — you have to ask permission to speak,” he says.
“I am super worried about my future because I want to be a state trooper one day,” Valdez tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Being in jail took a toll on me.”
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