6 Students Implicated in “Detailed Plan to Attack” Flagler Palm Coast High School, No Arrests
FlaglerLive | September 8, 2016
Last Updated: 9:10 a.m.
Six students at Flagler Palm Coast High School were tied Wednesday to what a district spokesperson described as “a detailed plan to conduct a coordinated plot against Flagler Palm Coast High School.” The alleged plot was to have involved guns.
No weapons were found on campus, and the students, interrogated for much of the afternoon Wednesday, were turned over to their parents. No arrests were made, though arrests are possible, a sheriff’s spokesman said, should probable cause be found. The students’ computers were seized and are being analyzed by sheriff’s office’s detectives. FPC’s school day today is unfolding as normal, with just one additional school resource deputy on campus.
The school district and sheriff’s office released only limited information–district spokesman Jason Wheeler issued a release about the incident just before 7 p.m. Wednesday–making it difficult to gauge the gravity of the situation, though so far indications are that the students may not have developed concrete plans so much as chatted about it on social media and through their computers and phones.
“We don’t want anybody to overreact but it was a detailed plan to attack the school. Were they role playing, how far did they go, we don’t know,” Wheeler said.
Making threats to attack a school is illegal. Yet for now officials don’t have enough concrete evidence to tie direct, actionable threats to the students. “When probable cause develops, if it does to charge, then we will,” Jim Troiano, the sheriff’s office’s chief spokesman, said this morning.
The school was not evacuated and students went about their day unaware of the issue involving the alleged plot. The threat-level at the school was not changed. And detectives were not called in until much later in the day, Troiano said, with administrators and school resource officers handling the questioning of the students. The students’ parents were called in to campus, but it’s not clear whether they were in the room while their children were being questioned.
The students have been suspended for at least a week, Wheeler said, though the nature of the suspension is not disciplinary. “The students were placed on ‘Administrative excusal,'” Wheeler explained. “This is a temporary excused absence. It allows administrators to complete an investigation without having to mark the students as absent and the absence won’t count against the student. Typically, it’s no more than five days.”
“Anything like this you take very seriously, so the concern of course is real,” Colleen Conklin, who chairs the school board, said. Superintendent Jacob Oliva informed her by phone of the incident Wednesday in late afternoon. “We feel our campuses are safe today, and the matter is being appropriately investigated I think it would be irresponsible for anyone at this time to comment while the investigation is going on. I have not received conformation of exactly what this is. We don’t know yet what exactly it is. But you have to take every single one of these situations ans scenarios very, very seriously.”
The district is not disclosing what ages the students are or what grades they’re in, only that they’re six boys. A brief incident report the sheriff’s office issued this morning lists seven boys, all of them 14, with one exception, a 15 year old.
School officials were tipped off of the alleged plot when a bomb threat was emailed to Bunnell Elementary Wednesday morning. The email was traced back to the account of a student at FPC. School officials determined that threat to be groundless. But in the process, they discovered the alleged plot and its connection to the six students. Social media was involved. Phones were also seized.
“We do not know at this point what their motivation was,” Troiano said, noting the possibility of a couple of motives, “one being they were acting out something, or this could have been a legitimate threat.” There was no need to bring in bomb-sniffing dogs, however, and the school was not subjected to a search during school hours. “No weapons or destructive devices that we know of,” Troiano said. School dismissed as scheduled at 2 p.m., with the six students involved in the alleged plot still being questioned.
“We’re uncertain as to the legitimacy of the threat, it was there, we’re uncertain as to the intent, so we’re trying to find out more,” Troiano said. “If there was a larger threat different action would have been taken, such as evacuating the school, bringing in bomb dogs and those kinds of things but based on our investigation that wasn’t necessary.” He added: “Not every threat to a school has to be a Columbine or that kind of threat, it’s not, sometimes these kids they act out, they role play and we have to look at these things very carefully but take them very seriously, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”