An eighth-grade student initially thought to be behind a threat to bring a gun to Forestbrook Middle School is innocent, his father claims.
A different student was later arrested, said Teal Britton, Horry County Schools spokeswoman.
We want to make it clear that Stephen Martin did not do this.
“The second student was falsely representing the first,” she said, although she wasn’t permitted to name any student in particular.
Lee Martin said his son Stephen Martin’s identity was stolen when another student posed as Stephen on Instagram and threatened to shoot up the school. Instagram is a popular social media site where people can share photos, videos, send messages and comment on other user’s content.
“We want to make it clear that Stephen Martin did not do this,” said Lee Martin. “He had no part in this.”
The second student was falsely representing the first.
Teal Britton, Horry County Schools
After other students saw the threats on social media, they told their parents, who called police. Police notified the school and Stephen was suspended, said Lee Martin.
Stephen’s mother, Amy Martin, got a call from the school on Sunday and said her son doesn’t have an Instagram account.
“I was shocked and I really did not believe that my son would do that because he doesn’t even use social media,” she said. “So I asked him when I got home, I asked him about it and he immediately said he didn’t do it and I totally believed him.”
They weren’t willing to release his name to the public to clear him, and they weren’t willing to release his name to even the kids at school to clear him.
Stephen Martin said he heard about his suspension from his mother.
“I felt horrible that someone would do this to me,” said Stephen Martin, adding that he felt “sickened that someone would stoop to that level and try and get me arrested.”
Police cleared Stephen and arrested a different student on Tuesday, but Lee Martin wasn’t happy that the school district couldn’t publicly release his son’s name to clear him.
I felt horrible that someone would do this to me.
“They weren’t willing to release his name to the public to clear him, and they weren’t willing to release his name to even the kids at school to clear him,” he said. “I said ‘Well, Stephen’s name is already out there. It’s all over social media. You guys didn’t release it but it’s out there. I want him cleared before he comes back to school. I think it’s important to get that out there to the parents and the kids that Stephen didn’t do this.’”
Britton said that messages initially sent to parents in the immediate aftermath of the threat were only sent out because of the “social awareness” of the threat.
She said the district would never release any student’s name regardless of whether or not they were being accused and that “it would be completely unprecedented to do so now.” She said another message was sent to parents notifying them that a different student had been arrested in the case.
Britton could not confirm whether the district had been in contact with Lee Martin.
“In the context of a confidential student matter, we are unable to identify a parent of a student since doing so would subsequently identify the student,” she said in a statement.
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian