DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Daytona Beach police officers have made four arrests in two separate incidents that have impacted classes and security at Mainland High School.
Three ninth-grade students are in custody, accused of setting off firecrackers inside a stairwell of one of the campus buildings around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. The incident caused havoc during a lunch period over concerns there was an active shooter, and it resulted in the school being locked down. The three students believed to be responsible were arrested hours after the incident.
On Friday, authorities announced the arrest of a fourth student, also a ninth-grader at Mainland, related to a school shooting threat involving the high school that had quickly spread on social media on Thursday.
Officers on Thursday responded to the school after receiving reports of shots fired on campus. When they arrived, they discovered that there was no shooting, but instead, firecrackers were found inside the stairwell.
"I've got to say it was gutwrenching when that call came out," said Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri. "Even though it wasn't an active shooter, we had students who were traumatized by this. We had parents who were traumatized. By the time I got to the scene minutes later, parents were running up to me hysterical."
Chief Capri said multiple law enforcement agencies assisted in the call, with many patrol cars seen lined up along International Speedway Blvd. Within two minutes of the first calls received from the school, units from the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) arrived, followed by other units from agencies, including the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Volusia County Beach Safety, and the Ormond Beach Police Department. In all, an estimated 50 to 75 officers responded to the scene.
The school was cleared of any threat and no injuries were reported. The lockdown was lifted a short time later.
According to the DBPD, each of the three suspects faces a misdemeanor charge of disruption of a school function and a felony charge of bringing an explosive onto school property.
While the firecracker incident was taking place, detectives were investigating the social media threats about a school shooting.
"DBPD received numerous tips about an Instagram post that mentioned that the firecracker incident at Mainland was a 'test' to see how fast police would respond to an active shooter situation," said police spokesman Messod Bendayan. "The post indicated that response would be factored into an actual school shooting which would take place today at Mainland."
Detectives were able to track down the person believed to be the author of a threatening post and took him into custody on Friday morning. He faces a felony charge of written threats to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting.
All four defendants are now in the custody of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.
This story is developing, check back for updates.