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11-year-old arrested after falsely reporting school shooting

On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Major Crimes Detective Jordyn Batts arrested 11-year-old Taryn Louis-Jean (B/M, DOB: 02/22/2012) for False Report of a Mass Shooting, Utilizing a Two-Way Communication Device to Commit a Felony, Disruption of a School Function, and Misuse of 911.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at around 9:40 a.m., Marion County Public Safety call takers received a call from a student at Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, who reported that there was a shooter in the school’s hallways. This call resulted in a school-wide lockdown. Immediately, a multitude of law enforcement personnel and specialty units from MCSO and other local law enforcement agencies responded to the school. After extensively searching the school, law enforcement did not locate an armed assailant or weapons and no one was injured. All students and staff were accounted for and returned to their classrooms. MCSO detectives then began to investigate who called 911 and made the false report.

Through the investigation, Detective Batts determined the phone that was used belonged to a student at the school. That student was interviewed and adamantly denied calling 911, stating he left his cell phone in his backpack during a trip to the school’s clinic. School Resource Officer Christopher Rafferty reviewed surveillance footage from the school hallway, which depicted the student walking through the hallway without his phone or backpack at the exact time 911 was called, corroborating his statement and ruling him out as the person who called 911.

The juvenile advised Taryn Louis-Jean was the only student in his class likely to know where his cell phone was located. After listening to the 911 call recording, multiple people identified Louis-Jean as the caller. Louis-Jean had also made statements to the other students about wanting to go to the clinic as well so his parents could pick him up early from school. Detective Batts made contact with Louis-Jean and his parents, but they refused to speak with law enforcement without a lawyer present.

“This student put fear into his fellow students, staff, and parents,” stated Sheriff Woods. “And for what? A prank? Because you wanted to go home? I will not tolerate my young citizens being fearful of going to school because you wanted to be a ‘jokester’ in hopes of going home. The law requires that any person who makes these types of false reports pay restitution for the cost of the law enforcement response which, in this case, will equal hundreds upon hundreds of man-hours. This young man is going to need to mow a lot of lawns to pay that bill.”

Based on the facts and circumstances of the investigation, Louis-Jean was placed under arrest and transported to the Marion County Jail.

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