Local law enforcement cleared Columbia and Bradford High Schools without sending students home after each received bomb threats on Monday.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and Bradford County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Facebook pages, both Columbia High School in Lake City and Bradford High School in Starke were targeted with bomb hoaxes.
BCSO Col. Brad Smith said they were called around 9:30 a.m.
“It was a male with a middle eastern accent who explained they had a person who was going to come to (Bradford High School) with a package with wires coming out of it and he gave a specific room number,” Smith said in a phone interview.
That room number turned out to be the cafeteria. Smith said law enforcement responded to the school and sheltered the student in place while clearing the cafeteria and the surrounding rooms. Students were then evacuated off campus while law enforcement searched the rest of the school.
“By noon, we had an all clear,” Smith said. “We started feeding the students lunch and brought them back into the school building following the lunch period.”
A short time later, a similar scene unfolded at Columbia High School.
“At this time, Columbia High School has heavy law enforcement presence due to a suspicious event,” the school district tweeted at 10:58 a.m. “All precautions are being made to make sure all students, faculty and staff are safe. We are working with CCSO and will continue to update on this matter.”
“No devices were found and we made the decision to allow the students to return to class,” CCSO Sgt. Steve Khachigan said in a phone interview.
A similar situation occurred on March 15 when Columbia High School received the threat of a suspicious package, according to a CCSO press release, where the call was placed using an untraceable phone number application.
Multiple counties in Florida also received threats Monday, both Smith and Khachigan said.
“I’ve been hearing similar reports on social media,” Khachigan said. “Even from other states.”
Following Bradford’s all clear, Smith said he was glad nothing bad came out of this situation.
“We will use it as a training experience and debrief with the school and other first responders,” he said. “We’ll look at the good and the bad and see how we can better respond in the future.”
Since August, Alachua County Public Schools have received 20 threats at six schools, the last one coming on Feb. 14 at Gainesville High School.
Gilchrist County schools also received multiple threats during a week-span in March.