FBI assisting Buchholz bomb threats investigation

The FBI is investigating the recent wave of Buchholz High School bomb threats, which included a fourth incident Tuesday.

The recent hoaxes started on Aug. 19, but this past week has seen three more threats—last Wednesday and Thursday, then Tuesday of this week. Each time the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) has searched and cleared the campus, but officials say the incidents are a drain on law enforcement and the school resources, causing instruction disruptions and emotional anguish.

That’s why authorities are aggressively investigating the threats.

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“We do have federal assistance,” said ACSO spokesperson Cpt. Kaley Behl. “We actually have a deputy who is our FBI liaison. He is primarily employed by us, but he has joint duty. We bring him in from anything that is bomb related or terrorist related.”

The recent hoaxes have taxed law enforcement, the school and Buchholz families, according to the school district.

“These threats are obviously disruptive to the educational process and causing a lot of anxiety for the students, staff, and families, especially in today’s world,” said Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) spokesperson Jackie Johnson. “Even though these are four confirmed hoaxes, it is very upsetting to the school community. The biggest impact is on the school day and the education the students are receiving.”

For ACSO, the manpower for each threat pulls deputies from other duties.

“On the first bomb threat on Aug. 19, 16 deputies responded,” Behl said. “On Sept. 1, we had 21 deputies, on Sept. 2, nine deputies, and yesterday we had 10. And then you have to think about the follow-up interviews, surveillance, helping with the school evacuation, and traffic control.”

In 2016, WUFT reported a 14-year-old Buchholz freshman was charged with three separate bomb threats and immediately expelled.

In an ACPS release sent out to Buchholz families on Sept. 3 following the third hoax, the message stated that anyone calling in a bomb threat will face discipline from the school district and, under Florida law, a bomb threat is a felonious act that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Any student caught calling in a bomb threat will be recommended for expulsion.

Anyone with information regarding the bomb hoaxes is asked to call the ACSO at 352-955-1818. Call Crime Stoppers with anonymous tips at 352-372-7867. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

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