Teen arrested in Flagler County 'swatting' call to Buddy Taylor Middle School 'on a dare,' sheriff says

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said an arrest has been made following an investigation into a series of threatening calls made to multiple Flagler County schools between May 14 and May 17. 

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said during a news conference that a 13-year-old boy is believed to be behind a call that was received at Buddy Taylor Middle School around 10:48 a.m. on Friday. The caller stated, "The school will be blown up at 11."

"School staff immediately initiated a school lockdown as they have been trained and notified the sheriff's office," Sheriff Staly said. 

The sheriff explained that 19 deputies and investigators responded and worked with the school security team to perform a safety sweep, and an all-clear was given at 11:42 a.m.

Sheriff Staly said deputies were able to identify and locate the teenager through investigative means. With the assistance of the Daytona Beach Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), he was taken into custody on Friday afternoon.

The sheriff said the teen was not a student at Buddy Taylor Middle School but was asked by a student and friend who is enrolled at the school to call in a bomb threat "on a dare." The sheriff said the teen told deputies he said he "did not want to be a punk" and not place the call.

The teen was arrested on one count of false reports concerning a bomb and one count of tampering with physical evidence – the sheriff said he attempted to delete items from his phone. Additionally, he is charged with unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

The sheriff said he had a message to the Buddy Taylor Middle School student who allegedly dared his friend to place the call: "Go to your parents, tell them what you did, and turn yourself in because we will find you next."

Wadsworth Elementary was also placed on a lockdown and secure hold on Friday. According to Flagler Schools, all outdoor activities were moved inside the schools.


The school district released the following statement on Friday: 

"In light of the recent swatting calls that have unfortunately disrupted our schools and prompted the activation of our standard response protocol, we want to assure our Flagler Schools community that we are dedicated to maintaining safe and secure schools. We understand that this past week has been challenging for all of us.

"Please know that your safety and security remain our top priority. In close collaboration with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, we are diligently adhering to our District Safety and Security Plan to ensure the protection of our students and staff members. For the rest of the school year, we will continue our normal operations with increased law enforcement presence on all campuses. This additional support is part of our proactive efforts to ensure safety for all."

This marks the second time this week that these two schools have been impacted by suspicious phone calls. 

On Tuesday, both schools went into lockdown after a "swatting" incident from an anonymous male caller, deputies said. Deputies said earlier this week that the calls were made to the sheriff's office's non-emergency line and the other to Buddy Taylor Middle School. Units responded to both schools and gave the all-clear.