LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – A teacher was arrested in Lake Wales Thursday after putting a 17-year-old boy in a chokehold and burglarizing his home, deputies say.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Thomas Griffin, 43, grew concerned when he realized his daughter was not home. Griffin was able to track his daughter’s footprints using GPS and discovered she was at a mobile home park located on North Scenic Hwy in Lake Wales, where he had recently dropped her off to spend time with friends. The daughter’s age was not disclosed in the affidavit, but she is reportedly 14.
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Griffin traveled to the residence his daughter was at a few weeks ago, and damaged the front porch gate, breaking all three hinges, so that it couldn’t open, close or stay secure.
He then busted through the front door and encountered the 17-year-old victim.
Griffin identified himself as his daughter’s father and the victim opened the front door. Deputies say Griffin entered into the house uninvited and inquired about his daughter’s whereabouts. When his daughter showed up, Griffin told her to go outside to his vehicle, and she obliged. Griffin then placed the victim in a chokehold, threw him on the couch and threatened to kill him if he went near his daughter again. He then left the scene.
Deputies caught up with Griffin later Thursday morning and he was taken into custody.
He was booked into the Polk County Jail on one count burglary with assault, a felony, and one count criminal mischief.
Griffin is a teacher at Lake Region High School in Winter Haven and is still an active employee, according to the school, which released the following statement regarding the incident:
The District, as well as the Department of Employee Relations in Human Resource Services, has been made aware of this situation and is in the process of gathering information relative to this matter. It is important to note this employee has been arrested and not formally charged. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to gather all pertinent information, in order to afford the Superintendent the opportunity to make an informed decision on the employment status of the employee.”