WHPD Press Release
WINTER HAVEN – A 13 year-old Denison Middle School student has been identified and arrested for calling in a shooting threat last Friday, which caused a planned school dance to be cancelled.
Yesterday (5-22-18) Harry Benjamin Henderson (DOB 6-15-04, 7th St NE, Winter Haven) was identified and charged with making the threats to the school. The events unfolded like this:
On Friday (5-18-18) the administrative line at Denison Middle School received three phone calls stating people would be killed at the planned dance later in the evening.
The first call came in at 12:50 p.m. and a male voice said, “Thirty people are going to die at the dance tonightTell MS Cox her car is not safe.” The caller hung up.
The next call came in at 12:59 p.m. and the same male voice said, “Thirty-five people are going to die tonight.” The third and final call came in at 2:05 p.m., again with the same male voice stating. “Thirty people are going to die at the dance tonight.”
The principal contacted police and investigators immediately started work to identify the caller. In the meantime, Winter Haven Police planned to have uniformed officers at the dance. However, after further discussions, the school made the decision to cancel the school dance out of an abundance of caution.
As the investigation continued, there was no caller-ID found on the school phone system. Ultimately, investigators were able to obtain a phone number through the school’s phone service provider.
On Tuesday (5-22-18), Detectives went to the home of Henderson and made contact with his guardian and Henderson. Detectives spoke with Henderson and he told the detective that he made the calls and it was all a joke. He told detectives he did it all on his own.
At the time of this offense, Henderson had been placed on out-of-school suspension due to a previous incident that occurred at the school resulting in Henderson slapping another student in the face. Henderson was also barred from the planned school dance and told the $10 ticket he purchased of the dance would not be refunded.
Based on the fact the Henderson made three threatening phone calls reporting impending mass casualties and an intentional act to disrupt the school function with the dance being cancelled, Henderson was charged with Hoax Threats via Phone (F-2) and Disrupting a School Function (M-2).
“Let me make this perfectly clear,” said Chief Charlie Bird. “It is not a laughing matter involving any violence, particularly a shooting, whether at a school, a school function or any gathering no matter where the location. We are committed to making sure that anyone who thinks it’s a joke will find out that we aren’t laughing.”