A 20-year-old Marathon man was sentenced to six months in jail plus five years of probation Wednesday for threatening on Instagram to shoot up his local high school just three days after the massacre at a Parkland high school.
Duviel Gonzalez, a graduate of Marathon Middle High School, will get credit for 166 days served.
“I will never do it again,” Gonzalez told the judge. “I never intended to do it.”
He has not left the county jail since his arrest Feb. 17 on a combined $77,500 bond for threatening to kill students at Marathon High in the days following Florida’s worst mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty members were killed by a gunman Feb. 14.
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“His timing could not have been worse,” his attorney William Heffernan told the court Wednesday. “It should have never happened at all.”
Gonzalez must also stay away from all school properties across the Keys, stay off social media and only use his cellphone for work and family calls, according to the terms of the plea deal with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office.
He pleaded no contest to making written threats to kill or do bodily injury and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Prosecutors said they spoke to everyone involved in the case, including a teenage girl Gonzalez directly threatened online, and everyone’s focus was to get Gonzalez help, not prison time.
The second-degree felony Gonzalez was charged with carries up to 15 years.
Gonzalez posted three photos on Instagram, including one of five shotguns. Another photo depicted a white male holding a rifle with his face covered with the caption, “Round 2 of Florida tomorrow.”
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and Homeland Security arrested Gonzalez the same day he made the posts after authorities received calls from several people who saw his Instagram account. No weapons were found at Gonzalez’s home during a police search.
After writing, “Obviously can’t wait for these bad boys to go to work” underneath the photo of the five shotguns, Gonzalez included a blushing face emoji.
A 13-year-old girl questioned him in an instant message about making such posts three days after the Feb. 14 Stoneman Douglas murders, prompting Gonzalez to respond, “LOL, you’ve earned yourself two in your face,” Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist said in court Wednesday.
One person commented, “Don’t kill me, please.”
After receiving the tips, investigators frantically searched for Gonzalez because there was a marching band event with a large attendance planned for that afternoon, which was a Saturday. The event went on as scheduled, but with a heavy police presence.
Gonzalez and Heffernan agreed to the plea deal but asked the judge to spare Gonzalez of having a criminal conviction on his record.
But Judge Ruth Becker refused to “withhold adjudication,” which would have kept Gonzalez’s record clean of a felony.
“We live in constant fear, unfortunately, all of us who put ourselves in classrooms, courtrooms and businesses that these threats are going to be carried out,” Becker said. “All of us are solely responsible for the choices we make and in making these choices have to accept the consequences.”
Wednesday’s sentencing hearing at the county courthouse in Marathon drew State Attorney Dennis Ward, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Schools Superintendent Mark Porter and school board member John Dick, who all watched from the audience.
Gonzalez’s family and supporters pleaded with the judge for mercy.
“He is committed to demonstrating he can live a law-abiding life,” Heffernan said. “He’s never been in trouble before this.”
Gonzalez’s mother, Juliana Prats,addressed the court and after the hearing had tears on her face.
“I just want him home,” she said.