Update: Columbia High School cleared from threat

Update (5:15 p.m.): Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) reported in a press release that a call was received at 11:30 a.m. regarding a possible explosive device at Columbia High School. 

“We got a call through dispatch of a suspicious package or bag, but weren’t able to locate anything right away but out of an abundance of caution the school was evacuated and we called in the Alachua County [Sheriff’s Office] bomb squad to come in and sweep the campus,” said CCSO spokesperson Sgt. Steven Khachigan. “Nothing was found, so we’re continuing the investigation.”

In the CCSO press release, Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter thanked area law enforcement agencies for assisting in the search. 

“Although these situations can be alarming, I am thankful for the partnerships we have with every agency involved to ensure the safety of our children,” Hunter said. “Our safety protocols were tested and were successfully implemented through this team effort.

“At this time, the campus is as safe as we can possibly determine and we will continue to work with school officials to make our children feel safe when they return to school tomorrow and in the future.” 

The CCSO will continue to investigate the threat and is asking anyone who has additional information regarding this incident to contact the Detective Division at (386)758-1095.

Our original story (1:33 p.m.)

A suspicious bag found at Columbia High School prompted law enforcement to evacuate the campus on Tuesday.

According to a message on the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Twitter page at 12:53 p.m., students were being evacuated to the Columbia County Fairgrounds with parents being asked to use the Marty Ethel entrance along the Branford Highway (State Road 247) and bring identification to check their student out.

CCSO indicated on its Twitter page that there is a heavy law enforcement presence at Columbia High School following a report of a suspicious bag.

Columbia County Schools (CCS) sent messages to parents throughout the district that afternoon transportation would not be available to any schools except the Pathways Academy and to make arrangements to pick up their non-Columbia High School students at their school.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office press release sent at 4:56 p.m. on Tuesday.

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