Following the Parkland, Florida shooting that took the lives of 17 people, schools across the nation have been on high alert for any possible threat that may arise.
In light of those tensions, when 21-year-old Abigail Hernandez allegedly threatened New York’s East High School on Feb. 15 using a fake Facebook account, authorities were quick to respond.
According to USA Today, Hernandez was accused of setting up a Facebook account with the name “Martin Doll,” where she allegedly posted a picture of the teachers and students at East High, writing, “I’m coming tomorrow morning and I’m going to shoot all of ya b—–s.”
The 21-year-old was taken into custody by Rochester police shortly after the post was made. She was charged with making a terroristic threat and questioned for several hours before being returned home. On Feb. 20, however, police took her into custody once again.
Hernandez’ father, Eufracio Torres, claims he bailed her out following her second arrest only for immigration authorities to step in and detain his daughter at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center.
Hernandez, who qualifies for “dreamer” status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, reportedly came to the U.S. at the age of 3 accompanied by her parents — who are now speaking out in defense of their daughter.
“She’s not right mentally — she doesn’t pick up what people say,” said Hernandez’ mother, who chose to remain unidentified. “She doesn’t pick up what people say. She’s very dependent on me.”
Torres, who works 80 hours a week as a bus driver and said both he and his wife have green cards, insisted his daughter is incapable of making such a threat. He claims she might not have made the threat at all.
“It’s my daughter and somebody lied about it. It’s not true,” said Torres, who also told WHAM that Hernandez had friends over the same day the threat was made.
Rochester police said a shotgun was also found in Hernandez’ home, but Torres claims it belongs to him and that his daughter had never touched it, as it was stored at a rental property he owns across the street.
“My daughter never fight,” Torres said. “(If) you go to her school and ask the teacher, (does) Abigail fight? No. My daughter’s nice. Every teacher in the school talks nice about her.”
The family’s neighbors corroborated the 21-year-old’s friendly manner, saying that she was “always quiet” and never a bother.
“She’s a very nice girl and has always been very respectful to me,” said neighbor Connie Harlan. “At one time, I had a disability and she would help me.”
With Hernandez in ICE custody, her family is concerned for her well-being as a special needs individual.
Torres himself has attempted to visit the 21-year-old but was immediately denied as the guards told him his daughter would have to put “in writing” that she wanted her father as a visitor. Torres argues that she lacks the cognitive ability to do so.
“My family can’t sleep,” he said. “You see her face on the news? She’s scared … She (must be saying to herself), ‘Oh man, what happened to me, what I did?’ But she no do nothing wrong.”
According to her parents, Hernandez switched from East High to Edison Tech High School years ago due to Edison’s special needs program being closer to what she needed. Her parents say she would have trouble making to the corner store visible from their house, let alone walking to East High.
“You put my daughter (in front of our house) and say to go to East (High), she doesn’t know how,” Torres said.
However, paperwork from authorities alleges that Hernandez admitted to creating the Facebook account, though other are led to believe that, due to her learning disability, she may not have known or fully understood what was going on and the seriousness of her alleged comment.
On Monday, Hernandez appeared in city court, where prosecutors said her case will be forwarded to a grand jury. A judge set Hernandez’ bail to $100 after her attorney requested she be held in Monroe County Jail.
“I am not privy to her medical status so that’ll be a request made by the defense attorney if they feel it’s appropriate,” said Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Greg Colavecchia. “But it’s out of my hands so to speak.”
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