Bell student faces 5 felonies for bomb threats

The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) arrested Douglas Aaron Marangoni, 18, from Bell on Wednesday for the March 11 bomb threats at Bell High School, charging him with five third-degree felonies and two misdemeanors. 

GCSO detained Marangoni at his residence before transporting him to the county jail where he’ll stay with a $220,000 bond. Marangoni could face a maximum sentence of 22 years with a minimum of about 36 months, according to GCSO Undersheriff Robert Willis. 

Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz speaks at Wednesday's press conference

“I appreciate the hard work of our deputies and partners in this case to ensure our schools are safe and that children can attend school without fear of harm,” Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said at a Wednesday press conference

The sheriff’s office said Marangoni sent two messages on March 11 through an app that said: “BOOOOOM” and “Bye bye students and school??”

The GCSO reports that Marangoni sent other messages on March 14 and 15. 

Douglas Marangoni mug

Schultz said the investigation is similar to a murder case with the hundreds of hours it takes to unravel the technology involved. He said Marangoni worked through layers of electronic technology to send the messages, requiring equally sophisticated technology to analyze. 

Schultz said the community has continually contacted him over the bomb threat case since it occured, and while it took some time, he said law enforcement did its job.

“Our calls and procedures, how we handled things, went well as evidenced that we have somebody in custody that, quite frankly, a lot of people didn’t think we’d be able to do,” Schultz said.

He also said the arrest was a warning that the sheriff’s office will catch up to those who commit these crimes. 

“We’re gonna aggressively go after these investigations,” Schultz said. “There’s nothing that anybody can do that we can’t figure it out.” 

Gilchrist County School District Superintendent Jim Surrency speaks at Wednesday's press conference

Gilchrist County School District Superintendent Jim Surrency thanked law enforcement for its work. He also thanked the faculty and staff at schools for providing for student safely and helping students understand the procedures in place. 

“We’ve not been through something like that in a lot of years, and I think they were prepared,” Surrency said. “We go through drills. We spend a lot of time making sure that we have protocols in place.”

The GCSO worked with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement on the case. 

Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. speaks at Wednesday's press conference

At the press conference, Alachua County Sheriff’s Clovis Watson Jr. said Gilchrist County is not alone in countering these threats. Whenever Schultz calls, Watson said Alachua County would come to assist. 

Watson also addressed why law enforcement takes a hard stance on these crimes, pointing to the terror of parents, students and teaches caused by the actions. 

He also referenced school shootings in other communities that were done by young people and resulted in deaths.

“We have to be a strong community to stand on these issues,” Watson said. 

Alachua County Public Schools have received 20 bomb threats this school year, and last week, law enforcement in Columbia and Bradford counties responded to bomb threats at schools.

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