Lake Minneola Student Posted to Social Media Before Killing Self at School
A classmate says the senior was in an online group chat the night before his suicide where he said he was going to kill himself.
A student shot and killed himself Tuesday morning in what police are calling a “planned event”.
The shooting happened at Lake Minneola High School in Minneola, Fla., during a planned fire drill. A classmate found the victim, 17-year-old senior Seth Sutherland, injured in a school courtyard. Sutherland was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, reports Click Orlando.
Deputies say Sutherland sent private messages to family and friends to say goodbye. He also posted a public message on Snapchat, condemning those he felt wronged him and contributed to his suicide.
One student says Sutherland was in an online group chat with other students the night before the shooting and announced he was going to kill himself the next day. The comment went unreported, according to the Daily Commercial.
Investigators are reviewing security video and talking to students who may have witnessed the shooting.
Isaiah Vargas, a 16-year-old junior, says students were attempting to exit the building for the fire trill when they were stopped by faculty and told to go back inside. Vargas says he saw teachers running and Sutherland’s “lifeless” body.
Confusion followed the incident, leading some to believe there was an active shooter on campus.
The high school and other schools in the area were placed on lockdown as a precaution.
“At first kids were saying someone stabbed him or there was an active shooter or whatnot but then the teacher came inside and said, ‘Look, someone tried to commit suicide, there was a gun and everything; people trying to help him,'” says Vargas.
Lake County district communications officer Sherri Owens says students were texting their parents about what they heard happened before officials were able to gather all of the details.
“In this age of social media, some of the students had alerted parents even before we had the opportunity to do so,” says Owens. “But when we alerted parents we wanted to make sure we had confirmed as many details as we could. So when our message went out we told parents, ‘It appeared a student took his life this morning.'”
Owens says school officials are looking into how Sutherland obtained the gun.
Parents gathered outside the school following the shooting but were kept waiting for several hours while investigators talked to witnesses, including those who were in the group chat with Sutherland.
Some parents formed a circle and prayed while they waited.
“I was inspired to pray so we can fellowship with one another and pray for the family going through this time of bereavement,” says parent John Stephens.
Grief counselors were sent to the school and a chaplain was sent to Sutherland’s home.
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