Two NHS students arrested for bomb threats

Two Newberry High School students have been arrested in connection with making bomb and mass shooting threats.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested on Thursday students Ransel G. Lugo, 17, of Newberry and Sarah A. McKay, 15, also of Newberry.

Lugo is charged with, “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 a statement released by the ACSO on Facebook just before 7 p.m.

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.

The investigation is ongoing and may result in additional charges, according to the report.

According to ACSO spokesperson Capt. Kaley Behl, the two suspects were taken to the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center to be booked on charges.

The State Attorney’s office will review the cases and decide whether to try the teens as adults. “The ball is in the State Attorney’s court,” she said, adding that there is more work to do by investigators.

“This was a big portion of the case, and it’s still ongoing” Behl said. “We’re not done. Further charges or suspects could be developed.”

“Hopefully, we’re putting the public’s mind at ease with this ongoing nightmare.”

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said in an announcement on Facebook that she appreciates the “great work” the ACSO did to identify the students.

“I’m confident law enforcement will also be able to identify those responsible for the threats at Gainesville and Eastside high schools,” Simon added. “When they do, the penalties are likely to be severe.”

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe applauded the ACSO’s investigative work. 

“I understand that we still have an ongoing situation, but I think it is important to publicly say thank you to the men and women of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and our Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. ASO has been amazing to work with,” Marlowe wrote in a Facebook post thanking investigators. “Sheriff Watson and his Deputies have been responsive, professional, compassionate, and focused on bringing stability and peace back to our community. Never once did we have to ask for anything and no resources were held back.”

Simon said ACPS administrators and school resource officers will talk to students at all middle and high schools about the serious consequences for making threats. 

“We’ll also be appealing to students to talk to each other about this issue,” she said. “We believe those conversations are critical to preventing future threats.”

ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson sent out a notice to Oak View Middle and Newberry High School families and staff about the arrests.

“The district will also be taking disciplinary action against the students,” the statement reads. “Under Florida law, a student who makes a bomb threat against a school must be recommended for expulsion.”

ACPS schools have experienced 13 bomb threats since the start of the school year, starting with four at Buchholz High School. Authorities arrested 17-year-old Buchholz High School student Preston Powers on Sept. 13 in connection with at least two of the four bomb threats at Buchholz.

On Thursday Sheriff Watson announced that Powers will be tried as an adult and face up to 15 years in prison. 

Since last Thursday, there have been four threats at Newberry High School, two at Gainesville High School, one at Eastside High School, one at Oak View Middle School and one at Newberry Elementary School.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. 

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