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Teen arrested for Flowery Branch HS Instagram threat

10:54 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The familly of a teenage girl arrested after writing about a possible shooting at Flowery Branch High School, says this has been one big misunderstanding.

Tiffani Torres, 18, was taken into custody Tuesday morning and released on bond around 5:30 that night.  A judge ordered her to stay away from social media sites, the internet and her cell phone.  She was also given a 10 p.m. curfew.

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Hall County Sheriff Sgt. Kiley Sargent said Torres was charged with one count of disruption of a public school after posting a threatening message on Instagram. Torres is a senior at Flowery Branch High School.

Torres' step-father says her message about 10 or 15 kids shooting up the school, was a reference to an imaginary dart game, where players blow air darts at each other to freeze them in place until rescued.

"You walk up and say I got you, then you have to sit down. You can't get up until somebody else comes and tags you," said James Cole.

But that's not how the students, sheriff's deputies, or even the Governor's office took it, offering up GBI resources to catch the person who posted the message.

More than 1,000 parents rushed to check their students out of class.

"It's a very big understanding and she's not a monster. She's not mentally unstable and all the things I've seen so far posted. It was just a game. It was not supposed to turn into this," said Torres' aunt, Jolie Dienes.

Today, the principal said most students had returned to class. But parents still had plenty of questions.

"They wanted the assurance that the person responsible had been arrested so if there was a threat even if it had been deemed a hoax, parents are still anxious," said Hall county school district spokesman Gordon Higgins.

Hall county investigators say they worked with the GBI and Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, to track down the computer used to send the message. Deputies decided to arrest Torres' even after they heard her explanation.

"Years ago I'm sure it was pulling a fire alarm, but in today's time we can't have that. This is more than a juvenile offense. This is something that put a lot of lives in danger," said Sargent.

Now an 18-year old with no disciplinary record faces a misdemeanor charge. She's already been suspended, pending a district hearing.

"She's never been in trouble, she doesn't want to cause trouble. She doesn't want to fight anyone, she definitely doesn't want to shoot anyone," said Dienes.

Investigators combed through the campus Monday morning after a student showed the Instagram message to a parent. That started a chain reaction with the school, district and sheriff's office.

The school was never placed on lockdown, but adults did set up watch at all of the entrances and exits until investigators determined there were no weapons inside.

"This message caused a total disruption to this school day, there's over 1,600 students here at Flowery Branch High School, 1,000 of whom had their parents come get them to check them out once they got text messages from their students saying there's a report of a shooting at the school," said Higgins.

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