Two boys have been charged in connection with threats scrawled on a bathroom wall at Gainesville High School, police said late Wednesday.
Security was high Wednesday at the school after officials learned of a bomb and gun threat scrawled on a bathroom wall, authorities said. Gainesville Police officers and school leaders used surveillance video and tips to help identify the two boys believed responsible. The names of the students were not released because they are juveniles.
One suspect was charged with terroristic threats and acts, interference with government property, and disruption of a public school, and was being held Wednesday night at the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said. The second juvenile was charged with false statements, Holbrook said.
School officials responded to the messages reported Tuesday and posted by students on social media by ordering a higher police presence, bringing in bomb-sniffing dogs to canvas the school perimeter and searching all backpacks when students arrived, Gainesville Schools superintendent Marrianne Dyer said.
Dyer said and parents were notified of the threat through reverse phone calls and emails.
“We notified parents because parents were receiving the pictures via social media and they didn’t know where (the pictures) were coming from,” she said.
On Tuesday, a student found the words “Thursday there will be no more Gainesville High School. And I’m going to bring my gun! And kill everyone!” written on a boys bathroom wall, authorities said.
“The second one said ‘we have explosives and will blow this place up,’” Dyer said.
School officials said attendance on Wednesday was down by between 8 and 10 percent.
Ultimately, authorities don’t believe the threat, which is aimed for Thursday, is legitimate, Dyer said.
“Police don’t believe it and we concur that it is a prank,” she said. “There doesn’t appear to be a serious threat. But you never know.”
In the wake of incidents like the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December in Newtown, Conn., and the shooting in August by a heavily armed intruder at McNair Discover Learning Academy in DeKalb County, Dyer said school officials can’t afford to take such threats lightly.
“These are the kinds of threats that we 20 years ago might not have taken seriously,” she said. “But because of the events of the past four years, we can’t ignore this.”
— Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.
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