Boy, 10, locked up in America for sending 'joking' texts featuring gun pictures

3 June 2022, 11:49

Daniel Marquez, 10, who has been locked up for three weeks for 'joking' texts featuring guns
Daniel Marquez, 10, who has been locked up for three weeks for 'joking' texts featuring guns. Picture: Supplied

By Stephen Rigley

A 10-year-old boy has been locked in a Florida detention centre for three weeks after he "jokingly" threatened to shoot up his elementary school.

A judge ordered Daniel Marquez to be detained for 21 days last weekend after being charged with making a written threat after he sent three texts to a friend that allegedly suggested he was plotting to shoot up Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral.

Those texts – two stock images and a message to his friend saying he was looking forward to the last day of school – have been taken totally out of context by authorities, the boy's lawyer told MailOnline

Daniel was handcuffed at his home and hauled off by sheriff's deputies during a "perp walk" shared online by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Daniel Marquez's'perp walk'
Daniel Marquez's'perp walk'. Picture: Lee County Sheriff's Office
Daniel Marquez
Daniel Marquez. Picture: Lee County Sheriff's Office

Authorities also released the boy's mugshot on Monday while warning that "fake threats" result in "real consequences."

He is currently being held in a juvenile detention centre 55 miles away from his home.

Daniel's nightmare began when the father of the boy who received the messages got concerned and reported them to the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

The incident came just four days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a teen gunman killed 19 children and two teachers last week. 

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According to the arrest report, Daniel sent a text to a friend saying: "I scammed a friend", along with a Google image of cash. "I bought this," he added a few seconds later, and included an image of four assault rifles. 

He later sent another message saying: "Get ready for water day," referring to an end-of-school year event in which students participate in water activities.

In a radio interview after the incident, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his team did not "wait one second."

He added: "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."

However, attorney Molloy – who is fighting for his release from detention – insists the texts were child-like humor and were taken out of context.

"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."