A University of Central Florida student accused of threatening several public schools in Orange County has been temporarily banned from owning weapons.
Chris Velasquez, admitted to UCF in Fall 2015, told police he was just one life-altering event away, such as getting fired or having a breakup, from gathering the courage to begin a school shooting, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Velasquez posted online his “thoughts and urges to commit a mass shooting” and craving for the “adrenaline rush” since high school, namely Odyssey Middle School and Lake Nona High School where the student felt bullied.
The Florida Legislature passed the “Risk Protection Law” following the Parkland school shooting that now allows police to evaluate an individual and restrict gun ownership if found mentally ill.
The Orlando Police Department used the new law for the first time to temporarily seize the family’s revolver, which Velasquez learned to shoot on his 19th birthday and said belonged to his father.
“We are grateful that this avenue is available to us now; it will help OPD — and all law enforcement agencies — further protect the communities we serve,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a prepared statement.
Court documents show that UCF received numerous calls warning about Velasquez’s threats.
Velasquez’s attorney accused UCF Police of being coercive in their interrogation, to which university public information officer Courtney Gilmartin said police acted appropriately and he was not misled.
The Biotechnology student is still enrolled in classes, according to UCF, and while no criminal charges have been filed, the threats made online will be reviewed by the university and the Office of Student Conduct.
In Reddit posts, Velasquez praised both the Las Vegas shooter and the Parkland shooter and foreshadowed his intentions in other threads, according to court documents. UCF Police traced the username “The Real UCF Chris” and interviewed Velasquez on March 5, obtaining an admission to the posts and desire to make the leap with “thoughts and urges to commit a mass shooting since his sophomore year of high school in 2014.”
Velasquez, although, stated to police he “did not have the courage to go through with it, yet,” and would likely use an “AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle to commit those shootings.”
No preparations were made, according to Velasquez’s statement to police, and it had “always just been a thought” in his head. Later that day, the student was involuntarily admitted to a mental health center under the Florida Baker Act due to homicidal ideation, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“The ‘See Something, Say Something’ message worked in this case—the alarming Reddit posts were brought to law enforcement’s attention, and through hard work and partnership, the person behind them was identified,” UCF said.
“We should all sleep easier at night knowing that a firearm was removed from his household and that he is barred from purchasing any others.”
According to his Attorney, Velasquez was determined not to be an immediate threat to himself nor others after an evaluation and has been released from the mental health center.
Parents of both OCPS schools have been notified of the threat and security will increase at the schools, OCPS spokeswoman Lorena Hitchcock said to the Orlando Sentinel.
Velasquez has been barred from entering the UCF campus.