The incident did not rise to criminality, State Attorney said

 

The case of a Mexico Beach man arrested in early December after his stepchild submitted a homework assignment with a drawing depicting a violent school shooting, has been closed with no charges.

The State Attorney’s Office late last month filed a notice of “no information” in the case, effectively dismissing the charges and closing the case.

Robert Paul Alexander Edwards, 33, was charged with a written threat to kill or do bodily injury, a second-degree felony.

He was jailed on $150,000 bond.

At the time of the case closure, he had paid $500 as an assessment upon his conditional release in December.

He owed no additional reimbursement, according to the docket on file with the Gulf County Clerk of Court.

Edwards is the stepfather of a child enrolled at Port St. Joe Elementary School.

The child turned in a homework assignment with a drawing at the bottom depicting a school building on fire with a person running from the school and several others standing in line being shot by another person.

Two people were drawn on the ground in what appeared to be a pool of blood and the words “Pew, Pew, Pew” are written next to the person with the gun.

School staff, sensing the potential severity of the situation, immediately reported to school and district administrators and law enforcement was notified.

“These matters will never be taken lightly and they may not be simply considered erring on the side of caution,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton.

Investigation by the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office determined Edwards drew the image, he was taken into custody and interviewed by investigators.

“Our country has been affected one too many times with horrific school tragedies,” said Sheriff Mike Harrison. “We take matters like this very seriously.”

Although the actions in the drawing were taken seriously, Harrison said there was no reason to believe Edwards intended to carry out the threat.

State Attorney Glenn Hess, in closing the case Jan. 24, wrote that the concerns of local officials and the violent imagery did not bring the threat to a level of criminality, due to its lack of specificity regarding a target.

“A recent decision by a Florida Appellate Court held that a generalized threat to do violence at a school, no matter how disturbing or alarming to responsible officials, is not within the purview of (the Florida Statute pertaining to writing a threat to kill or do bodily harm),” Hess wrote.

Therefore he was filing a “No Information.”

In Florida, that means no future charges will be brought in the case, any warrant is withdrawn and the case closed with no additional action.