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Son of disgraced DeSantis critic arrested for making terrorist threats

By Sarah May
|
April 9, 2023

Rebekah Jones, who gained notoriety by claiming that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fraudulently manipulated COVID-19 data during the pandemic, saw the arrest this week of her son over claims that he threatened to commit a shooting at the middle school he attends, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Jones took to Twitter Wednesday to announce the arrest in Santa Rosa County and in doing so, suggested that her family had been targeted in an act of political retaliation on the part of the governor.

Jones' take

According to Jones, she was informed by a police officer that a warrant for her son's arrest had been issued after law enforcement had received an anonymous report about Snapchat messages posted by her son.

Jones stated that a person claiming to be related to a classmate of her son recorded the aforementioned Snapchat exchanges and went to the police to report that a meme critical of police had been shared by the boy.

The former state employee declared that local police and authorities at her son's school conducted a threat assessment related to the messages and declared that no danger was posed.

Two weeks later, Jones said, her son was taken into custody, and she was informed by arresting officers that the action had been ordered by “the state.”

“Living in DeSantis' Florida”

Jones did not hold back when it came to explaining her side of things on Twitter, declaring, “My family is not safe. My son has been taken on the gov's orders, and I've had to send my husband and daughter out of state for their safety.”

“THIS is the reality of living in DeSantis' Florida,” Jones continued.

Leaving little doubt about who she believes is behind her son's arrest,” Jones added, “There is no freedom here. Only retaliatory rule by a fascist who wishes to be king.”

The former state worker elaborated on what she says sparked the probe of her son, observing that his legal troubles began “[a] week after we filed our lawsuit against the state,” which she later described as “the first lawsuit in America against a state's Covid lies,” referencing litigation she initiated against the Florida Health Department seeking restoration of her employment, back pay, and additional damages.

Additional details emerge

As the Pensacola News Journal notes, however, Jones' account of her son's situation omitted a number of details that authorities appeared to have deemed material in their investigation of the original complaint.

An incident report provided by the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office alleges that Jones' son had lodged multiple threats to engage in a mass shooting at the Holley Navarre Middle School and also to stab classmates he disliked.

Interviews conducted with schoolmates and others with whom the boy interacted online revealed that he had said things such as “I want to shoot up the school,” “If I get a gun I'm gonna shoot up hnms lol,” and “Okay, so it's been like 3-4 weeks since I got on my new antidepressants and they aren't working but they're suppose [sic] to by know so I have no hope in getting better so why not kill the losers at the school.”

Sources told police that the boy said he intended for the school shooting to happen prior to Spring Break but ultimately decided to hold off until March 31.

Lawsuit commenced

As evidenced by her recent whistleblower lawsuit filing, Jones is clearly not abandoning her assertions about pandemic-related wrongdoing in the DeSantis administration.

However, she may have an uphill battle when it comes to prevailing on her latest claims, given that a state probe of her earlier allegations found no evidence of wrongdoing, as the Tallahassee Democrat reported last year.

The probe, which was conducted by Michael Bennett, chief inspector general of the Florida Department of Health, determined that Jones' claims were either declared “unsubstantiated” or “unfounded.”

Since then, Jones unsuccessfully ran to unseat Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01) and just this week signed a plea deal for deferred prosecution on a felony charge of accessing a state computer system without authorization that stemmed from her activities in opposition to the DeSantis administration.