ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A 22-year-old man is behind bars after threatening to shoot up a middle school in Pace, according to Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies.

John Hawkins, 22, was charged with giving a false report concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner.

Deputies said on Oct. 11, a tip was sent through WhatsApp saying there would be a school shooting on Tuesday. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office said the phone number used to send the text messages to the crisis text hotline was traced to Escambia County.

In the text messages, deputies said someone named “John” missed flight school and lost one of his sailors. John said in the message he was going to shoot up a middle school in Pace and then kill himself.

According to the arrest report, the number being used was the same number as a suicide threats call deputies responded to earlier Monday night.

When deputies responded to Hawkins’ home after receiving the crisis hotline text, Hawkins denied contacting the hotline and he did not use WhatsApp anymore. Deputies said Hawkins offered to show them the messages within his cellphone, but did not click on the app in question.

When deputies asked him about the app, the arrest report said he voluntarily searched for the app and an active account appeared. Deputies said Hawkins attempted to swipe sideways in a way to delete a message. Deputies said they told Hawkins not to delete anything, which is when Hawkins started to become uncooperative.  

According to deputies, a clean sweep was performed at Hawkins’ residence and no firearms were found. Hawkins was given a $15,000 bond.

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