Times Staff Writers
BROOKSVILLE — A lockdown at Central High School was lifted Wednesday afternoon following a second bomb threat that day, making for four at the school this week, according to the Hernando County School District.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he believes all are "related in some way, shape or form" to the same person or group. Deputies continue to investigate the incidents and plead for information from students and parents.
The first threat at Central on Wednesday was called into the Sheriff’s Office emergency communications center about 7:30 a.m., and students were evacuated to the football field, district spokeswoman Karen Jordan said. Deputies, who were at the school to investigate two previous threats Monday and Tuesday, did a sweep of the school. Once they deemed it safe, about a half-hour later, students returned inside, Jordan said.
When a second threat was called into the Sheriff’s Office about an hour later, students remained inside under "full lock-down," she said. Deputies again did a sweep of campus, and the lock-down was lifted around noon. During the afternoon, Jordan said, some parents came to the school to sign their children out for the rest of the day.
Students and staff at the school are "doing remarkably well," she said. "Some are frustrated, some are shaken."
The Sheriff’s Office also responded to Mariner Square Shopping Center off Cortez Boulevard about 8 a.m. Wednesday, regarding a suspicious package found inside a newspaper or periodical box near Twistee Treat. The package was X-rayed then shot with a water cannon by the Citrus County bomb squad. Officials determined it was not a bomb, the Sheriff’s Office said, and reopened closed lanes of traffic before noon.
Michael Terry, spokesman for the agency, said the package was unrelated to the threats at Central High.
Nienhuis told reporters his agency is "working some very good leads" regarding the threats at Central. He urged anyone with information to come forward.
"We’re talking to anybody who might have knowledge of what happened," he said. "We’re asking — we’re begging — citizens, if they or their children know anything, to let us know."
The sheriff said if the person responsible is a juvenile, he plans to push for the person to be tried in court as an adult.
Jordan said there have been no threats at any other Hernando County schools this week. And at Central High, everyone is "assuming business as usual tomorrow."
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that bomb threats at Central High School and a suspicious package found off Mariner Boulevard were related.