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Flagler County deputies respond to 3rd day of threats at local middle schools

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — An anonymous caller reported a bomb threat at Buddy-Taylor Middle School in Palm Coast on Thursday.

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It was just one of several calls targeting Flagler County schools so far this week.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office released body-worn camera video Thursday showing deputies responding to the first bomb threat call at Buddy Taylor Middle School on Tuesday.

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Since then, close to a dozen threats have been reported, with half of those “swatting” calls going to Buddy Taylor.

Out of respect for parents who remain concerned about the threats, the school district says it’s excusing student absence through the rest of the year.

All planned activities will go on as normal, down to graduation.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly says the swatting calls his deputies are responding to have become a sign of the times.

“What would happen towards the end of the year, or major test times, the fire alarm would get pulled,” Staly explained. “But now, it has evolved into what we’re dealing with today.”

From Bay County to Brevard and now Flagler County schools, swatting threats have become a concern that’s put the community on edge.

“Really, over the past 18 to 24 months, this has just risen out of control,” said Chris Pierson, CEO of cybersecurity and privacy firm BlackCloak.

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According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, since Tuesday, the anonymous bomb and shooting threats to local schools have come from a male caller.

Sheriff Staly says the nature of the crime presents a challenge for detectives.

“These are not easy investigations,” Staly said. “Many times, they use technology to spoof a phone number.”

Staly says that because of the complexity of the investigation, the department has responded to each call in force to search and lock down schools like Buddy Taylor and Wadsworth Elementary, which were all found to be clear of any threats.

“We’re going to respond with everything we have,’ Staly said.

Cybersecurity exerts say education and preparedness ahead of time is the key.

“We really need to take a long, hard look at how we actually mitigate this on the front end,” Pierson said. “Then put in place some better technological measures to go ahead and prevent it.”

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Sheriff Staly says, over the past six years, his department has been working with the school district on such cases.

Now, the department is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, taking every swatting call seriously while working to catch the person behind them.

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