Teen Son of Florida COVID whistleblower arrested on ‘terrorist threats’ allegation
On April 5, 2023, the 13-year-old son of a Florida whistleblower who challenged Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020 over COVID-19 data was placed under “house arrest” for allegedly threatening to injure people in his former to shoot middle school .
He had been arrested the day before. Until his release into house arrest after a court date, after a Miami Herald Story on April 6 he was held in prison Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, a 50-bed state detention center in Pensacola. The newspaper said Rebekah Jones, the former Florida Health Department data curator, and her son live in Santa Rosa Countyeast of Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.
Referring to the incident report, the Herald said the 13-year-old was on suspicion of “written [or] electronic threats” of a “mass shooting”. [or] terrorist act.”
On April 6, Jones tweeted that police were deliberately hiding information related to the arrest of her teenage son.
“JFC. I just found out via @MiamiHerald that the police released an edited version of their report, which specifically did not say that the messages sent were from an account NOT owned by my son.” tweeted Jones. “I think they had to have a backlash plan to arrest a 13-year-old for memes.”
(Image via Twitter by Rebekah Jones)
“An unedited version of the warrant obtained by the Herald shows the threatening messages were sent from a username different from that used by Jones’ son to send the memes,” the message said. “The document does not say how authorities determined that both usernames are linked to the same account.
The teenager reportedly threatened Snapchat and Discord, an instant messaging app, around February 1, according to the Herald. Law enforcement officials claimed that other teens drew the officers’ attention to the posts in March 2023. Officers showed screenshots of memes Jones’ son shared on Snapchat and threatened to shoot his former middle school.
Snopes was unable to independently verify the officials’ claims. However, Snopes reportedly contacted the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office Pensacola NewsJournal, released the incident report, which claimed the 13-year-old repeatedly threatened to shoot Holley Navarre Middle School and stab students, which angered him. The sheriff’s office has neither confirmed nor denied that it withheld an undredacted version of Johnson’s son’s arrest warrant.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Jones accused DeSantis of ordering her son’s arrest without any evidence. “My family is not safe,” she said tweeted on April 5, the day of the arrest. “My son was kidnapped by government order and I had to send my husband and daughter out of the state for their safety.”
In 2020, Jones was fired from her job for “disobedience‘ after she accused DeSantis from misrepresent COVID-19 Statistics. In 2022, Democrat Jones lost her bid for the seat of Republican US Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.