GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old student at a Gainesville high school is facing up to 15 years in prison after being accused of making bomb threats, according to the Alachua County sheriff.
Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. announced Thursday the student will be prosecuted as an adult after allegedly making bomb threats against Buchholz High School.
The teen, who was arrested two weeks ago, was charged with possession of cocaine, making false bomb threats and using a two-way communication device to commit a felony.
“This is not a game. These are felonies and they will be handled as such,” Clovis wrote in a Facebook post. “Additionally, the cost of restitution will be sought for the amount of time, energy, money and assets that have been expended in investigating these incidents.”
The announcement from Watson comes as schools in the area have received a flurry of threats leading to lockdowns at five schools.
News4Jax learned Thursday evening, according to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, that a 15-year-old and 17-year-old were arrested in connection with the threats at the two Newberry schools.
A spokesperson for Alachua County Public Schools confirmed Thursday there have been three evacuations at Buchholz High School, four at Newberry High School, one at Oak View Middle School, two at Gainesville High School and one at Eastside High School due to various types of threats in recent weeks.
Clovis said he met with representatives from the Gainesville Police Department, University of Florida Police Department, Santa Fe College Police Department, High Springs Police Department, Alachua Police Department, School Board of Alachua County and the State Attorney’s Office on Thursday to address “the terrorism, shootings and other violent crimes which have recently greatly affected our county and disrupted the education of our students.”
“We cannot and will not allow these criminals to hold our community hostage,” Clovis wrote in a message on Facebook.
The sheriff said he expects more arrests to be made soon related to bomb threats at Newberry High School and Oak View Middle School.
“Students and parents should understand that choices to engage in criminal activity as exemplified in these recent cases will affect and have the potential to ruin your life. For those who decide to pursue criminal and terrorist activity, I will devote the time, resources and energy need to successfully solve and prosecute these types of crimes to the fullest extent of the law,” Clovis said. “To the public and leaders involved in our collaborative effort to stop the violence, I thank you for your commitment in joining me to make and keep our community safe.”
Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon also warned that the recourse for such behavior would be fierce, saying that disciplinary action, including expulsion, has already been taken against students found to be involved.