FACT CHECK: Was Rebekah Jones’ Son Arrested Over Memes?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook shows a headline from The Miami Herald the son of former Florida Department of Health employee Rebekah Jones was arrested over memes.

Verdict: False

Jones’ son was arrested due to posts threatening to shoot up a school, according to a sheriff’s office incident report.

Fact Check:

Jones accused Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of having her son arrested over a lawsuit she filed against the Florida Department of Health and a supervisor for back pay and reinstatement of her job, according to CNN. Jones had previously accused DeSantis of covering up the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state and firing her over her refusal to falsify COVID-19 related numbers, an accusation deemed “unsubstantiated” by an inspector general report, the outlet reported.

The Facebook image, which shows a Miami Herald headline, claims Jones’ son was arrested over memes. The headline reads,”13-year-old son of Rebekah Jones, whistleblower who clashed with DeSantis, arrested over memes.”

This, however, is false. Jones’ son was arrested because of threatening internet posts, according to Pensacola News Journal. He was turned into the sheriff’s office, where he was scheduled to be arraigned in May before he was released back into Jones’ custody after being subjected to electronic monitoring and ordered not to contact anyone at the school, the outlet reported.

Check Your Fact obtained a copy of the incident report, which showed that Jones’ son allegedly sent messages threatening to shoot up a school. Check Your Fact is not naming the son since he is a minor.

A copy of the incident report is available here. Check Your Fact has redacted information such as addresses, names of minors and other personal information.

The report shows that the investigation into Jones’ son began in late March because one middle school student showed another middle school student a screenshot from an “unknown Instagram account that was talking about a possible school shooting at Holley Navarre Middle School that would take place this week, possibly Thursday.”

The incident report shows that deputies interviewed students until they found that Jones’ son had shared memes about shooting up a school. For example, the report states that “[A student] showed her [Jones’ son] posting of a brain with the text, ‘I’m feeling kinda silly, I think I will shoot up a school.'” They continued to interview students while deputies contacted Jones herself, where Jones told a deputy that her house did not have any firearms and that kitchen knives were locked in a box.

A deputy also interviewed Jones’ son and conducted a threat assessment. A deputy also submitted a warrant request for the contents of his Snapchat account. (RELATED: No, This Image Does Not Show A Mugshot Of Donald Trump)

After the warrant was submitted, they reviewed messages allegedly sent by Jones’ son on his Snapchat account sent in February. Some of these messages are relayed below.

  • “I want to shoot up the school” -Feb. 9th
  • “I’m getting a wrath and natural selection shirt so maybe but I don’t think many ppl know what the columbine shooters look like :/” -Feb. 12th
  • “I always keep a knife on me so maybe I’ll just stab ppl idk” -Feb. 12th
  • “Okay so it’s been like 3-4 weeks since I got on my new on my new antidepressants and they aren’t working but they’re suppose to by now so I have no hope in getting
    better so why not kill the losers at school” -Feb. 12th

“Based on the information above, I determined [Jones’ son] did willfully violate FSS 836.10. Written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism;punishment; exemption from liability,” the warrant reads.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told WEAR News 3 that the arrest was a result of the “process.” (RELATED: No, This Is Not A Real Headline About Male Pregnancy)

“Basically one of the kids in school was on Snapchat, got a Snapchat from this individual that basically said something along the lines ‘I’m feeling silly today I think I may shoot up a bunch of people in a building’ and then she showed that to a resource officer who then got in touch with a resource officer at Holley-Navarre Middle School where this gentleman used to attend ,and then we took it through the process,” Johnson said.

The Miami Herald later updated its headline to “Son of Rebekah Jones, Florida whistle-blower, arrested in probe of threatening internet posts.” The false headline still remains on Twitter.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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