A police department and judge in the United States have come under criticism after a ten-year-old boy was detained for 21 days for joking about a school shooting. The incident occurred shortly after the mass shooting in Texas that made headlines around the world and prompted a resurgence of the firearms debate in the US.

Daniel Marquez was ordered by a judge to be detained for 21 days at a detention centre after sending a text message to a friend that was interpreted as a threat

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He was held at the Collier County Juvenile Detention Center in Naples, Florida, 55 miles from his home.

Daniel said during proceedings that he was just trying to scam his friend and had no intention of ever doing such a thing. While his legal representative said it was fifth-grade humour gone wrong.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno tried to justify his police department’s actions, saying:

“We investigate every threat as if it’s real. I did a campaign. Fake threat, real consequence. While I understand the boy is 10 years old, his brain’s not fully developed. He’s a juvenile. I have to tell you: When a 10-year-old presses a trigger, the aftermath is the same regardless of the age.”

His defence attorney said:

“Based on a review of what has been supplied to me, Daniel was texting a friend and they were going back and forth, a stream of texts about a variety of subjects. And within that was what I can only call an attempt at humour – but fifth-grader humour. He made an unfortunate reference to assault rifles, but only in some joking way, not related to any kind of attack on a school… There was no reference tying the two things together. Somewhere in there was supposed to be something funny. He didn’t directly say he was going to shoot up a school. It is drawing a conclusion. There’s further conversation, back and forth about Water Day and the events. But nothing, absolutely nothing related to shooting it up or referencing the guns.”

Reflecting on the course of events his attorney added:

“At the time of arrest Daniel was being represented by the first person Mr. Marquez could get on the telephone, a very good lawyer who contested the probable cause. He said look there’s no threat here, there’s no probable cause to hold him. The judge disagreed and said there was, and that Daniel had to be held for 21 days. He was taken to the juvenile detention center in Collier County because the one in Lee County is under construction. He’s still there.”

[Based on reporting by: The Daily Mail]

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