After the Class 4 storm struck on September 28, packing winds of 150 mph and slamming Fort Myers and the encompassing space, conspiracy theories flooded the net like a storm surge. One held that the hurricane was a government-engineered plan to harm Floridians (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). One other made absurd claims that every one climate is “artificially managed.”
One significantly alarming web rumor has taken on a lifetime of its personal, suggesting that a big group of youngsters died whereas driving out the storm at a juvenile detention middle in Fort Myers. “The juvenile detention middle has had casualties that they are not discussing,” one TikTok consumer claimed in an October 4, early morning video, which has garnered greater than 273,000 views. “My buddy has been over in that county and has footage. I am ready for them to ship it to me,” the put up reads.
The rumor has been spreading on Twitter as properly, the place a search of “juvenile detention Lee County” yields a string of credulous tweets based mostly on the TikToker’s put up and different rumour.
Reached by New Occasions, the Florida Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which operates the 50-bed facility often known as the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Middle, welcomed the chance to disclaim the viral rumor, saying that every one youths who have been housed on the facility are protected and sound.
“I’ve seen related rumors which are very regarding concerning the juvenile detention middle in Fort Myers. The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Middle, which is operated by DJJ, was evacuated previous to Hurricane Ian making landfall,” DJJ spokesperson Amanda Slama wrote in an electronic mail to New Occasions on Tuesday. “Whereas I can not inform you the precise location, I can inform you that the youth have been evacuated to a location not in that space.
“There have been no fatalities and all of the youths are protected.”
Positioned about 19 miles inland from the severely broken Fort Myers Seaside group, the juvenile detention middle is a safe facility residence to youth detained by varied circuit courts throughout Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte counties pending adjudication, disposition, or placement in a dedication facility. In keeping with the DJJ, a typical day on the facility includes “hygiene, meals, faculty, structured bodily and academic actions, and court docket appearances as scheduled,” and the common keep is about 11 days.
The power is close to the freeway, a few nine-minute drive inland from downtown Fort Myers, and is situated subsequent to the Lee County Sheriff’s Workplace’s core facility, a medium/maximum-security jail with 1,216 beds.
Some variations of the viral rumor, whose origins stay unclear, declare that dozens of youngsters died; others make baseless statements that there have been fatalities within the 1000’s at Lee County detention facilities.
TikTok consumer @momadvocatesurvivor, who posted the October 4 morning video concerning the alleged deaths on the juvenile detention middle, claimed she discovered concerning the calamity from a paramedic buddy on Florida’s west coast.
“I do not know if it is mass casualties. I do not know the numbers that we’re speaking about, however to this point like a dozen…lifeless kids,” she mentioned. “And nobody’s speaking about it.”
In a cellphone name the afternoon after the video was posted, the TikTok consumer, whose title is Athena Maggio, tells New Occasions her buddy claimed to have been accountable for transporting “some particular person’s” lifeless physique from the world close to the juvenile detention facility. Conceding that she may need misunderstood what her buddy was describing, she says they supplied no additional particulars and he or she promised to place New Occasions in contact with the paramedic.
“If it’s not true, it will likely be a sigh of reduction,” Maggio says.
As of October 5, New Occasions has been unable to achieve the purported paramedic for clarification.