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11th Grader Admits to Bomb Threat at Flagler Palm Coast High School

| May 30, 2013

A bomb threat has local authorities on alert since around 11:30 a.m. Friday. (© FlaglerLive)

A bomb threat has local authorities on alert since around 11:30 a.m. Friday. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 9:38 p.m.

Thursday morning, a Flagler Palm Coast High School service employee who’d been off sick Tuesday and Wednesday returned to work and listened to phone messages.

One of the messages was a bomb threat, what Superintendent Janet Valentine described as a “very general threat.”

The call was placed on Monday. The message said that the “bomb” was to go off on Tuesday. But here was the employee, two days later, with what sounded like an empty threat, but could not be treated as anything other than a threat. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office was immediately informed.

Damon Smith. Click on the image for larger view.

Damon Smith. Click on the image for larger view.

Late Thursday afternoon, the sheriff’s office had traced the call to an 11th grade male student at the school, who admitted to making the threat. “He will be charged accordingly,” Janet Valentine said.

The student was later identified as Damon Smith, 18, of 3 Zeidler Court. He was arrested at 5 p.m. In his phone message, he said he would blow up the school on Tuesday “or some other day,” and he impersonated another student as he did so.

Smith had been suspended last week, and was due back at school Tuesday. He was charged with making a false report of planting a bomb, a felony, and booked into the Flagler County Jail at 8 p.m. He posted $500 bond and was released.

After an initial investigation, the sheriff’s office had decided to treat the call as a suspicious incident rather than a live threat: students were not evacuated. Seniors were not on campus (graduation is scheduled for this evening in Daytona Beach, and graduation rehearsal had been held Wednesday afternoon in FPC’s larger gym). But by the time the employee discovered the call, the school campus had already gone through one of its major events of the year, when Buddy Taylor Middle School’s 8th grade class, staff, parents, friends and family flowed in and out for 8th grade graduation exercises, held at the auditorium.

Still, all radio traffic was ordered off within the school walls after 11 a.m., and authorities, including the Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue, and the sheriff’s office, staged–that is, took up positions and readied for further action–around the old school board offices, adjacent to the school. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office’s bomb squad–which had been in action on Sunday in Flagler Beach, for a feared bomb what turned out to be a tackle box–was called in so its bomb-sniffing dogs could go through the school.

That was not to take place until 2 p.m., after the last bell.

By then, Valentine said, staff will have been informed of the day’s events, and Principal Lynette Shott will have made an announcement to the students, over the school’s public address system, of what had taken place. The school administration was also planning a “blast” call, Valentine said, to all FPC families informing them of the incident. But Valentine had made the decision,l on the Sheriff’s Office’s recommendation, not to elevate the incident beyond the level of “suspicious.”

Sheriff’s detectives were to trace the call, which would have left a trail in the school’s phone bank. By later Thursday afternoon, they were able to identify the caller and arrest him.

“They’re really considering this a suspicious incident at this point,” Valentine said before noon today. “They have not recommended that we evacuate because they do not feel there is a substantial threat at this point, so they are investigating it as a suspicious incident. We’re always worried about safety but I believe we’re making the best decision.”

Valentine had added in the morning: “We will be on this all day, and if we need to do anything else, we will make other decisions.”

Buses were to roll out of the school after the 2 p.m. bell. Authorities have been in the school for the past several hours conducting a search, and were to continue doing so after the building emptied out.

As the Flagler school district was contending with the incident, state education officials in new Jersey released figures today showing that there was a sharp increase in bogus bomb threats across the state in the 2012-13 school year, with 61 such threats prompting school-wide evacuations, a a 27 percent increase over the previous year. While not a single threat involved actual explosives, the emergencies cost taxpayers $2.1 million.

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10 Responses for “11th Grader Admits to Bomb Threat at Flagler Palm Coast High School”

  1. Jennifer Lopez says:

    thank god they were all safe

  2. Think About it says:

    Excuse me while I YAWN………….. Days ago, and just now going to get a bomb squad in????

    Better catrch up with the times FCSO…you can’t wait for days..Don’t forget the Bunnell Diner??? The A1A tackle box???? You’re putting Flagler on a wiat while I check my -emails…alert!!!!


  3. Seminole Pride says:

    This should not be taken lightly. I hope they treat this as a National Security Terrorist Threat and send little junior up the creek to prison for a long,long time. It’s the only way to get the message across to these little pranksters that think it’s all a big joke. Put him in a cell with Bubba.

  4. really? says:

    Suspended, bomb threats… …..good way to start your future. Keep up the good work and make your mother real proud.

  5. Jordan says:

    Bust him. These shenanagans blurted out by the youth must be enforced! Hopefully some time in county. We must make an example. Bomb threats are serious and cost taxpayers millions in dollars every year.

  6. BeachGuy says:

    I don’t have a child that attends this school, but if I did, I’d be pissed. Threatening to kill people is a serious offense, especially with all that has recently taken place in the world. I vote that he gets his GED while spending time behind bars.

    • Jennifer Lopez says:

      here we go, picking on the schools telling them what to do, I hope you voted for that extra tax today or soon. this is what the schools need it for, Programs to keep these kids in school

  7. Mike L says:

    This is to “Think about it”. The call was made Monday afternoon. The teacher was out sick until Thursday morning. The teacher immediately notified school administrators when the message was heard, on Thursday morning. The authorities were also immediately notified and responded accordingly. Read before you assume things and comment.

  8. T.D says:

    everyone is real quick to jump in regarding the punishment has it ever occured as to if this individual is a special needs and has been bullied the enitre year? its always wise to see everyside to every situation!

  9. Peter Wilson says:

    WTH is wrong with kids today?! Making bombs, hurting other people (or in this case threatening). One can only wonder what pushed this kid to do such a thing. Another case of the child gone bad or is there some other circumstance such as bullying or developmental delays/ issues..

    At least it was just a threat and his plans basically got foiled by the employee who got sick, since s/he was not able to receive the threat and report it until days after.

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