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Three students arrested after separate violent school threats

Posted at 2:14 AM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-18 02:14:08-05

LEE COUNTY — Three students in Lee County are in custody after threatening violence at their schools.

Those included a mass shooting threat at Bonita Springs High School, a bomb threat at Veterans Park Academy of the Arts, and a racist death threat at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts.

We talked with two parents who became aware of the school threat at Bonita Springs High School on Thursday. It was getting sent around via text message.

Then those parents had to make the tough decision whether or not to send their kids to school on Friday, their last day before Winter Break.

We were forwarded the threatening text message from a Bonita Springs High School student.

It simply says “We will be shooting up Bonita Springs High School tomorrow at 9AM. Stay Safe!”

"We live in a world that, right now it’s crazy," said Amy Keenum, who has two sons that go to Bonita Springs High.

Keenum said, after learning about the threat, she decided to play it safe.

"Three of my kids stayed home today. I have one in elementary school too, and I just said we’re just not going to go today," said Keenum.

We also talked with Jamie Merchant, who has a son in Bonita Springs High as well. She said, after learning about the threat, she left the decision of going to school up to her son.

"He doesn’t really listen to gossip or participate in any of that, and he felt comfortable and safe, so he was at school all day today," said Merchant.

In a press conference Friday, Superintendent Ken Savage said parents like Merchant and Keenum should not have to make that call.

"No one should ever have to feel afraid to come to school. The Sheriff and I share the same commitment. Schools will be safe, and threats against our schools will be aggressively pursued," said Savage.

At the press conference, Sheriff Carmine Marceno showed a video of the 15-year-old boy arrested for the threat at Bonita Springs High, as well as the two other students arrested for the threats at the two other schools.

He said he’s dedicating more resources to combat the growing trend.

"I’m implementing a school threat enforcement team consisting of highly trained, dedicated detectives," said Marceno.

Merchant said for her, that commitment from the Sheriff’s Office was reassuring.

"If there are more people involved in keeping our schools safe, and more people quick to act on these threats, maybe they aren’t, the threats will not be as frequent," said Merchant.

The student accused of making the threat at Bonita Springs High School is now facing a felony charge. That student was caught because, according to the Sheriff's Office, one of his peers actually reported him to the school resource officer, and on Friday Sheriff Marceno praised that student for their actions.