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Student, 15, charged with threatening to bomb High School on Facebook

Elizabeth Johnson, The Bradenton Herald –

MANATEE — A 15-year-old student is charged with threatening to bomb Manatee High School on the first day of school, according to officials.

The student made the threatening remarks on Facebook, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Those comments were reported by a parent and the investigation began July 29, according to the Manatee school district.

The student, who attended Manatee High last year, was arrested Thursday by Holmes Beach police after a joint investigation with the sheriff’s office and Bradenton police.

The incident was made public Friday afternoon.

“There was no evidence he was going to carry this out other than he made these threats,” said Dave Bristow, sheriff’s office spokesman. “We found no bombs, no material to make bombs — no evidence there was anything but him talking in a threat.”

The Bradenton Herald is not naming the suspect because he has not been charged as an adult.

The student is no longer enrolled at Manatee High School. His status within the Manatee County school system will be determined after a joint investigation between law enforcement agencies and the school district is complete.

“We’re going to let the law enforcement investigation complete its course,” said Michael Barber, school district spokesman. “As of now, he will not be in any of our schools.”

Bullying, harassment, bombs and bomb threats are all addressed in the Code of Student Conduct as incidents that could result in disciplinary action, Barber said.

The student was charged with threatening to use a destructive device, which is a felony. He was being held at the local juvenile detention facility. The case will be followed-up and sent to the state attorney’s office, Bristow said.

Though the student did threaten to bomb the school, Bristow said the threat was “vague” in nature.

Bristow said he hopes people will learn from this incident.

“We take these threats very seriously,” Bristow said, adding the student’s intent behind the comments is unknown. “I don’t know if kids think it’s funny or a joke, but we take it very serious and you’ll get charged if you do something like this. People go on there (Facebook) and put stuff on there, and I’m not sure they are thinking before they post things.”

Bristow said the incident should not create panic. The school district is, however, “enacting precautionary safety measures.” Manatee High Principal Don Sauer and other employees have been informed of the threat.

“We appreciate the cooperation of local law enforcement in dealing with this matter,” said Superintendent Tim McGonegal in a news release. “As always, our number one priority is the safety of our students and staff. We are confident we have taken the right steps to make Manatee High safe.”

There will be additional police presence Monday at the school, officials said.

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