TACOMA, WASHINGTON – A Tacoma seventh grader faced federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page. His mom said it all happened without her knowledge or permission.
Timi Robertson said she had just finished lunch with a friend Friday when she got a phone call from her son’s school.
“I answered it, and it’s the school security guard who’s giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they’re talking to him,” Robertson said.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.
“I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,” says LaPinta.
A week later, while Vito was in his fourth period class, he was called in to the principal’s office.
“A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service,” LaPinta said. “He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President.”
The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito and that it was a security guard who called Vito’s mom because the principal was on another call. The school district said they didn’t wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.
“That’s a blatant lie,” Robertson said.
The teen’s mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.
“I just about lost it,” she said. “My 13 year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.”
The seventh grader said that once his mom showed up, the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble. Now he’s more careful about what he posts online.
His mother says she isn’t financially able to take legal action but hopes her family’s story raises awareness about the treatment she said her son endured.
The Seattle branch of the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment.