A 14-year-old Buchholz High School freshman was charged on Friday in connection with the three separate bomb threats directed toward the school over the past month.
He was expelled the same day according to Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson.
“Under state law and district policy that student will be expelled from the school for at least a year,” Johnson said. “It’s certainly a very significant penalty that this student is facing.”
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office charged the student with three felony counts of making a false report of planting a bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. He was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of interfering with school administrative functions.
The student, who has not been identified, could face up to 15 years in prison, said Sgt. Brandon Kutner, a sheriff’s office spokesperson.
“Bomb threats may seem like a fun, juvenile prank, but they carry serious consequences,” Kutner said in a video posted to Facebook.
Kutner said it is unknown whether the Buchholz student is responsible for the bomb threats called into other Alachua County schools in recent weeks.
The school received the first of three bomb threats on Feb. 8. Subsequent threats were made on Feb. 16th and 18th, according to the report.
Over the last two and a half weeks, police interviewed students and staff to narrow in on a possible suspect, Kutner said.
Several persons of interest were contacted, and on Feb. 19th, detectives developed significant information identifying the 14-year old as a primary suspect, Kutner said.
Whenever these types of threats are made, law enforcement is forced to take resources away from other parts of the county, which Kutner said jeopardizes public safety.
“The whole process has been a painstaking endeavor,” Kutner said.
After investigating the student’s personal items, adequate evidence was found to link him to the crimes, Kutner said.
Police have not confirmed the student’s motives because they have not had an at-length interview with him, but they plan to pursue a prosecution, Kutner said.
“We want to make sure that the students and the parents of the county know that we take these kind of things seriously,” Kutner said.
He said the student’s parents may be liable to pay for the resources used in responding to the bomb threats, which could total thousands of dollars.
Johnson said the district is also looking into whether or not it can seek compensation for the costs it incurred as a result of the threats.