Nicholas Godfrey Pasco County, Florida student at Fivay High School arrested after soliciting hitman on Instagram on teacher. Insists was just joking. Does intent matter?
‘I need a guy who could kill someone.’ An 18-year-old Florida student at Fivay High School in Pasco County has been charged with attempting to solicit and conspiring to commit murder.
Nicholas Godfrey’s arrest follows the Hudson area student posting a message on Instagram that read, ‘I need a guy who could kill someone’. Adding, ‘No joke. I need him eliminated as soon as possible.’
During a press conference, Friday, Nov. 1, Sheriff Chris Nocco said the messages showed Godfrey was trying to find someone to kill an employee of his high school.
Nocco said other messages sent by Godfrey from the Instagram account ‘fivayfanclub’ included, ‘We have $100,000 for the victim’s head.’
Upon his arrest, Godfrey insisted he’d been joking.
IP address registered at Godfrey’s home.
According to the criminal complaint, the messages were brought to the attention of a school resource officer. A search led investigators to an IP address registered at Godfrey’s home, Fox6 reported.
The complaint said Godfrey confessed to sending the messages during a ‘non-custodial’ interview with Pasco County investigators. He also ‘freely provided a written statement documenting his solicitation for murder,’ and produced the cellphone he used to send the messages.
Intent doesn’t matter, sheriff says
Godfrey told investigators he was joking around, authorities said.
‘After speaking with Mr. Godfrey, he (Godfrey) did not have any clear direction or plan as to follow through with this,’ Pasco County Sheriff’s Detective David Dacey said.
‘You look at his past, and it wasn’t like this was a bad student,’ Nocco said. ‘The record did not show somebody who had consistently bad, terrible issues. It doesn’t matter if someone says, ‘I was joking.’ It doesn’t matter what their intent is. When you do it and you post it out there on social media, you committed that crime.’
Noted a Facebook release from the Pasco’s Sheriff’s Office: ‘The number of Florida youth charged with school related offenses has risen steadily in the last three years. School related offenses include making false reports concerning a bomb, explosives, or firearms.’
Social media responds to student’s arrest:
The student’s arrest led to a variety of reaction on social media, with one commentator remarking, ‘Does he need to be punished… of course! Don’t let him walk at graduation… arresting him for being a stupid kid and making a ridiculous joke on Instagram is a bit much in my opinion.’
Others meanwhile pointed out there wasn’t evidence Godfrey actually intended to follow through. ‘I think the guy was probably joking but I guess the whole point is, do we really know when somebody is joking or not in today’s world?’
Countered one commentator, ‘We’ve seen lots of people make threats online and follow through. Then everybody screams ‘why didn’t they do anything? The red flags were there?’
A plea for parental involvement
Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning asked parents to get more involved.
‘I am begging and pleading with parents to step up and step in, and help us keep order and keep civility in our schools, not just at Fivay, but across this district,’ Browning said at the press conference.
‘It’s a sad day when a student puts out a hit on someone at their own high school, and we once again urge parents to actively monitor what their kids are doing on social media,’ Pasco County Schools said in a statement. ‘We thank the students who reported the social media solicitation to kill one of our staff members and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. They are tremendous partners who care as much about our students’ and staff’s safety as we do.’
Godfrey was booked into the Pasco County jail early Friday morning with a bond set at $10,000. He was released around 1:15 p.m. Friday. He did not have an attorney listed with the Pasco County Clerk.