FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - A former student who deputies said posted threatening messages overnight on Facebook that included harming himself was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators arrested 20-year-old William Hofer, a 2011 graduate of Flagler Palm Coast High School. Hofer is charged with issuing written threats to kill or do bodily harm and was being held on $100,000 bail.
The Flagler County Sheriff's Office earlier Wednesday placed on heightened alert the campuses of Flagler Palm Coast High School, Matanzas High School, Imagine School at Town Center and Daytona State College Flagler Palm Coast after being made aware of the posts.
The Sheriff's Office said it was operating under the assumption that Hofer had access to weapons based on his Facebook postings, but that fact had not been confirmed.
Deputies had no indication that Hofer (pictured, right) was heading to campus, but on Facebook, deputies said, he claimed he was going to shoot himself and other high school students. Deputies said the age group Hofer was threatening is why they placed the three high schools and a college campus on alert.
"He has posted some pictures of handguns saying he was going to shoot some people," said Major Steve Clair. "He was referring to a friend of his he called his brother (who) was killed over in Putnam County last week in a home invasion. He's referring to that death, saying he's going to join him, he missed him, he wanted to join him, and that he was either going to go to jail or he was going to be shot by police."
The Sheriff's Office was informed by school officials of the postings.
The heightened alerts, which were initiated just before 9 a.m. Wednesday, were precautionary and classes on all campuses proceeded as normal, deputies said. Six additional deputies were placed at each campus.
Thousands of students were affected by the increased patrols. Parents were urged not to rush to the schools.
"I don't really myself feel threatened because usually that stuff is usually just a joke, but at the same time it might not be, so there's some danger there," Flagler Palm Coast freshman Chris Gollom said.
Deputies said Hofer is a transient and has no home address. He was taken into custody before 4 p.m. at a location on John Anderson Highway in the Flagler Beach area.
"Apparently some of the reasons there's been a problem with the family or with him, he's been moving from one house to another," Clair said. "His father supposedly kicked him out this morning. He stays with his mom from time to time and we think he stays with his friends."
Hofer's mother lives in Palm Coast and his father lives in Flagler Beach. Deputies said they both tried to help find their son.
"According to his father, he doesn't own any weapons, but the way he had it posted, he had pictures on his Facebook and he actually spelled out his initials with ammunition," Clair said. "So at one point, he either had access to it, to weapons, or they were his friend's weapons, or what have you, so we're taking it seriously."
Hofer was arrested in April on a charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He pleaded no contest and was placed on probation. Hofer was then arrested last month for violating probation and is scheduled for a court hearing on that charge in January.
"I've always found William to be a very respectful young man, never really caused us any problems. He never did anything outside that would stand out as somebody who had problems," said Jacob Oliva, Hofer's former principal. "I'm optimistic. I think he might be down on some tough times, but I'm sure he'll pull through if he can get the right help and support, and hopefully that will happen for him."
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