Gainesville students are trying to understand why an 8th grader would allegedly send bomb threats before getting arrested Monday afternoon.
The thirteen-year-old female is enrolled at Kanapaha middle school and was arrested after sending emails to Kanapaha Middle School and Buchholz High School on Monday, according to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Ally Robertson, Buchholz High School senior, was shocked when she found out an eighth-grader made the threats.
“That is wild,” she said. “Because usually it’s someone who doesn’t want to go to school, so when I found out their age it really surprised me.”
This is the second bomb threat Roberston has experienced at Buchholz High School.
“We’ve dealt with multiple bomb threats in past years. The first one was definitely very scary. It was filled with so many emotions since nothing had happened during my time at Buchholz like that.”
Robertson’s previous experience was also at Buchholz High School, in September of 2021.
Art Forgey, Alachua County PIO, said ACSO has seen bomb threats more regularly in the past three or four years, and “it typically happens around the first part of the school year.”
Kevin Purvis, Buchholz High School principal, said the threat came in “way before the school day had started.” He said it was around 6:30 a.m.
Officers from the K-9 unit, bomb squad and Juvenile Relations Bureau responded to the scene immediately, according to an ACSO press release.
Robertson said she found out about the bomb threat by email.
“They had sent out an email before school started that there was a threat and they weren’t letting anyone in,” she said. “They let everyone know that school was canceled and that parents could pick up students at like 11. I was like I’m not going if they’re not letting anyone in.”
The students already on campus were evacuated to the school’s football field, according to a post on ACPS’s social account on X, previously known as Twitter.
“Where they had everyone located to evacuate didn’t seem the safest,” Robertson said. “Our football field is not that far from the school.”
Students could get picked up by their parents or take a bus home, according to ACPS’ post on X.
“It’s a disruption to students’ school days, but also parents that have to pick their kids up from school during a work day,” Forgey said.
Forgey said ACSO had investigators searching for the suspect while officers were working at the school.
According to the press release, Anthony was arrested for written or electronic threats to commit an act of terrorism, disruption of a school function and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
“We work with service providers,” Forgey said. “They work with us quickly to follow those electronic footprints that lead us in a direction to start looking.”
Forgey said once the school board notifies ACSO of a bomb threat on a campus, they “initially respond with patrol units on the road” and with “anyone who is free.”
A bomb threat response is “more methodical” than responding to a gun threat, according to Forgey.
“Officers do not wait for other officers to arrive on scene,” he said. “They go immediately to limit the amount of damage a shooter can do.”
According to Jackie Johnson, Alachua County Public School Public Information Officer, threats are handled on a case by case basis for each school in the county.
Each school has “an individual crisis plan based on their size, geography, age of students, etc,” which has been around since at least 1992, when Johnson started.
Teachers and administrators are trained by school resource officers every year, with a minimum of six drills. Two are weather-related and four are active assailant drills.
“We do our drills, we prepare our people and law enforcement responds incredibly to any situation,” Purvis said. “We do the very best we can to protect our students and staff.”
Buchholz High School and Kanahapa Middle School are operating as normal from Tuesday.