Ex-Bolles students facing explosives charges get probation

The students were expelled and arrested on felony explosives charges in February

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two former Bolles School students, originally charged with conspiracy to make, possess, place or discharge a destructive device, will avoid jail time after pleading guilty Thursday to lesser charges.

Grant Shirley and Matthew Guey were sentenced to probation after entering guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges of interfering with a school function. They were ordered to have no unsupervised internet access, to stay away from firearms and are banned from all Bolles School campuses.

Prosecutors said either Shirley, of Port St. Lucie, or Guey, of Houston, used the dark web to research how to make napalm, a fuel-gel mixture used in firebombs extensively during the Vietnam War. But the State Attorney's Office said there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute the teens on their original charges.

Shirley and Guey were arrested in February after police were alerted to some kind of campus threat. Investigators then seized the teens' computers. The pair were first taken to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act before being turned over to law enforcement.

"Any potential threat to our schools is taken seriously," the State Attorney's Office said in a statement. "School officials and law enforcement acted swiftly in this case and we commend them for their quick response. Ultimately, a complete investigation did not bear out proof to support conspiracy charges. We have resolved this case to ensure both youth will remain under the supervision of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice."

Bolles School issued a statement Thursday afternoon on the former students. 

Dear Parents,

In an effort to keep the Bolles community informed, I want to share an update on the former students who were arrested in February and charged with suspicion to commit a violent act. We have been monitoring this case closely during the past year, cooperating with local law enforcement and court officials at each step along the way. The two boys appeared for trial today in the courtroom of Fourth Judicial Circuit Judge Suzanne Bass.  A plea deal was presented and accepted by the court. Judge Bass ruled a second-degree misdemeanor and placed them on probation with certain conditions to be met, resolving the case. 

While this is a sad event for our community, I remain grateful for the officers, lawyers and judges who have been assessing this case with wisdom and compassion.

The past few months have given me and other Bolles leaders time to further reflect on our security plans. Safety is our top priority for all four Bolles campuses — it is at the forefront of our thinking and takes precedence above all else. Daily we review, monitor and enhance our policies under the capable direction of Bolles Director of Safety, Security and Transportation Chris Butler, a former senior level law enforcement professional with 20+ years of experience. We remain vigilant about our surroundings. And we continue to encourage students, faculty and parents to always say something if they see something. We are blessed to be part of a community that works together to educate, protect and nurture our students.

If you have any questions, please contact me or email Chris Butler at butlerc@bolles.org

Tyler J. Hodges    
President and Head of School