Update, 7 a.m. Monday: The bomb threat at the Flagler Beach pier was cleared and State Road A1A reopened shortly after midnight. Users of the pier who’d left belongings there when evacuating could pick up their belongings after 5 this morning. The threat was allegedly traced to a Clearwater individual and his brother, formerly of Jacksonville, who used his livestream video account to broadcast prank calls to police, and who may have used the pier’s own livestream video to make local authorities believe he had eyes on the structure and its surroundings. Authorities shut down the local livestream early during the emergency. The individuals’ livestream, unhosted, was still on this morning. aT 12:22 p.m., the page was taken down.
Patrons at the Funky pelican and on the Flagler Beach pier were evacuated nearing 6:30 this evening when authorities learned of a man threatening to blow up the pier and shoot people. The situation was ongoing well into the evening but was expected to be resolved uneventfully.
The emergency has drawn numerous Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Flagler Beach police, along with the Flagler Beach Fire Department.
State Road A1A was blocked off at State Road 100 (Old Moody Boulevard), and northbound traffic at the south end of the pier was also being diverted at 7th Street South. The Sheriff’s Office was asking residents to avoid the area. An eyewitness at the scene described patrons being evacuated from the Funky Pelican’s back door earlier in the evening.
Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney at 8:28 p.m. said all areas had been cleared of danger but the edge of the pier that still needed a “better safe than sorry” examination by the bomb squad, which was on its way. “There’s a couple of backpacks but that’s not unusual with fishermen,” Doughney said. “When they were asked to evacuate they did exactly as they were instructed, leave everything and go.” The St. Johns County Sheriff’s bomb squad arrived shortly afterward.
As far as evacuations went, “only a few” of the businesses on the west side of A1A had to be evacuated “because most of them are closed,” Doughney said. No homes were evacuated.
In Flagler Beach, all fire and safety equipment was being staged at Publix on the west side of the bridge, off SR100.
The individual making the threat is reportedly unstable, with mental health issues, and was making very wild claims, but was also claiming to have eyes on the scene, heightening concerns, particularly about objects on the pier. It was unclear whether those objects were fishermen’s belongings, like duffel bags regulars bring out there normally. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s bomb squad was placed on standby or requested. It is the go-to squad whenever Flagler has a bomb scare. It has had a few in the past dozen years, but none resulted in the discovery of actual bombs except in some instances when live grenades were discovered, though without malicious intent.
The situation in Flagler Beach is slightly more uncertain given the absence of actual objects a squad could focus on, other than the bags on the pier. It appeared that authorities had deployed at least one drone that was flying over and alongside the pier, enabling closer analysis of the objects. The area beneath the pier–reportedly where the alleged suspect said he’d placed the “bombs”–was cleared of any suspicious objects.
“A pretty broad perimeter of police everywhere, they must’ve called in a bunch of off-duty city police, there must be at least a half a dozen of them,” an eyewitness at the scene said. “But I don’t see a whole lot of activity other than them holding people back.”
The patrol cars were concentrated outside the Funky pelican at first but were then spread out to broaden the perimeter.
As the minutes passed authorities evacuated the blocks immediately adjacent to the pier and the beach in the area of the pier.
There are not many places in the periphery of the pier from where the individual–the suspect–could have eyes on the pier and the beach around it, other than Finn’s, the restaurant-bar, and a few buildings along A1A.
The overwhelming majority of bomb scares prove to be just that–scares originating from individuals fabricating fearmongering claims. In this instance, the man making the threats has been making statements that suggest he is not entirely in his right mind. On the other hand, neither are individuals who maliciously, inexplicably intend to cause harm, though they usually do not broadcast the intention.
An similar bomb scare was called in at the north campus of Florida State College in Jacksonville in mid-February, where the suspect calling in the threat claimed he’d planted bombs throughout campus. The threat was disclosed to News 4, the television station in Jacksonville. A search of the campus turned up nothing suspicious. The station was able to provide an originating phone number to authorities, but the number was dialed from an untraceable virtual phone number.
Authorities nevertheless were able to tie the call to an individual and a podcast on “Twitch,” since taken down for “a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines.” A video of the podcast, called “The OddKast,” was still somehow accessible on YouTube. It features two individuals hosting seemingly taking calls and featuring recurring racist, bigoted and anti-Semitic comments that normally run afoul of YouTube’s guidelines. In YouTube’s comment section, someone had written seven months ago: “Turner was arrested in 2015 for a bomb threat. He wanted to bomb a LGBT conference in Jacksonville as of today nobody has any idea where he is.”
Ironically, the pier is slated for demolition this year or early next year as the city prepares to rebuild a longer, concrete pier in its place. But demolition will take place piecemeal, without explosives. (See: “Flagler Beach Commission Votes to Build 800-ft., $12.5 Million Concrete Pier Replacement.”)
I was the one who found the live pineapple grenade a few years back at the intersection by Kohls. People were just driving around it. Crazy day in PC
There’s a Webcam on top of the pier that scans North and South and down the pier, which can be viewed from anywhere…
Lance Carroll says
Flagler Beach is the environment of drastic change.
Better safe than sorry
Joe Biden’s fault. Whackos behave with Trump around. Trump/Putin 2024.
What about January 6th and wanting to overthrow a fair election and take down our democracy? What about the anti emetic marches and the Nazis over a bridge in Orlando? It’s you and yours that our country is like it is. Trump is a criminal along with our Nazi DeSantis taking away our rights and turning it around that it’s the opposite. You are a real redneck racist. Move to,Putin. Putin is a murderer and you would, it’s for him you should. E ashamed of yourself.
Brenda McKnight says
Finally someone who actually sees the light. Trump is backing the side of a Communist Dictator. I don’t c how this isn’t treason.
Sick, Sick, many of my supporters are clearly out of their minds. I encourage them to get help even if it costs me votes. Your School Board, County Commission and City Counsels are loaded with “wack jobs” who need to be removed from power.
Brenda McKnight says
Putin won’t accept 2nd billing.
S. Peters says
Wow, JJ that’s some sick, un-American thinking going on there in your head. Head on over to Russia if that’s your cup of tea. See how your right to free speech and guns work for you over there. SMH
Brenda McKnight says
I simply can not figure out the intensity of STUPIDITY w/which trumpasses view this man.
that was funny wtg
Michael Cocchiola says
JJ… can you give us a little bit more information on why you think it’s President Biden’s fault? I agree that “Whakos (s)” do follow Trump around, but they’re just typical Trump cultists. Especially those who seem to have mental issues.
So, if you can, let us all know how you are able to tie President Biden in on a false bomb threat by a Trump wacko.
Ron Kronen says
So you know for sure this is a Trump guy? well my friend – hope your enjoying living in Biden country.
Why cant people get a long with others. This was something you were supposed to learn in kindergarten. Why blame something/someone that it couldn’t possibly be.
You want Putin in this country? Your nuts – I can only assume you like when he rides horseback and shirtless
Brenda McKnight says
Yes & it is very sad. The BIG $$ finally found a Crack to sliver thru. Wildest thing non of the elected officials seem to care about the residents who live in this once piece of Paradise.
Brenda McKnight says
U have got 2b kidding me….
Celia M Pugliese says
I believe that other than a 16 million state of the art library or and A1A tourist welcome center our FCBOCC and its cities instead provide a very much needed mental health and addiction clinical service, given the ill planned growth we are enduring.
Good job to the emergency responders. Well done.
The whole world is going crazy. Dictators invading countries that don’t belong to them, People feel it is ok to be rude to one and other. The Cult Trump party believes in QAnon and prefer Putin over their our government. Yes the whole world has gone crazy.
Land of no turn signals says says
Lockem up and make them pay the city and county back for the hoax.
Isn’t it illegal to call in false police reports?? I would like to see this story updated. What has happened to the two morons that called it in and put it out on their podcast? Have they been arrested? Are they going to be held responsible for the cost of this? Ate they going to be held responsible for the trauma they put the people through? IS THIS NOT TERRORISM?!?!