Newberry rebounding after week of threats

A plate full of cookies and hot coffee, gift cards from local restaurants and retail shops, and a cake were delivered to Newberry High School on Friday after a stressful week that culminated in the arrest of two students.

The neighborhoods surrounding the school were quiet on Friday. The only remaining sign of the threats made this week is a digital sign still planted in front of the NHS, “Once a Panther always a Panther,” marquee asking for tips and offering a reward.

An anonymous resident sent over a platter of baked goods and flavored coffee from Joel’s Coffeehouse.

“They wanted to just thank the teachers and officers for how they’ve been keeping our kids safe,” owner Trish Bulko said.

NHS Student Government Association worked with local businesses such as Cilantro Tacos, Stone House Neighborhood Grill, Villaggios’s Pizzeria, Woodyard Grill and Ace Hardware to donate gift cards.

One Newberry family sent a “Thank You” cake and a card that read: “Just wanted to let you know how much you’re appreciated, Thankful for you all.”

On his way home from school on Thursday—after sheriff’s deputies detained two NHS students for making threats that involved bombs and mass shootings—one student said he was disappointed that Friday’s homecoming events and all extracurricular activities had been canceled.

On Tuesday ACPS and NHS notified students and parents of the change in plans.

“At this time, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all extra curricular activities, including practices and athletic events for the remainder of the week,” the school announced. “Additionally, all Homecoming Week activities are postponed until further notice. Additional information will be provided as soon as we have it. Thank you for your understanding.”

On Friday afternoon NHS announced homecoming festivities would take place the first week in November, including the crowning of homecoming king and queen. 

Arrested NHS students Ransel G. Lugo, 17, of Newberry and Sarah A. McKay, 15, remain in custody.

Lugo is facing “three counts of making false bomb threats, three counts of using a two-way communication device to commit a felony and one count of threatening a mass shooting,” according to an ACSO statement released on Facebook.

McKay was arrested and charged with two counts of making false bomb threats, two counts of using a two-way communication device to commit a felony and one count of threatening a mass shooting.

State Attorney’s office spokesperson and chief investigator Darry Lloyd said officials in determining whether to prosecute the suspects as adults there is not a “cookie cutter solution,” despite ACSO Sheriff Clovis Watson’s statement on Thursday that the student involved in the Buchholz High School threats would be prosecuted as an adult

Lloyd said that prosecutors will look at the suspects’ ages and could be charged differently based on information received by the investigative agencies.

“The new cases were not just bomb hoaxes, so they will be reviewed differently,” he said. “In every case there will be adult sanctions considered. They did adult crimes and they continued to do them outside of all the warnings that the school district, ACSO and Gainesville Police gave them. They still continued to commit the acts and cause this level of disruption that didn’t only affect the schools and education but some kids are traumatized by it.”

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