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Forest High student arrested amid rash of school threats in Marion County

The front of Forest High School in Ocala, Florida.
Joe Byrnes
An 18-year-old male student was arrested at Forest High School in Ocala after a post on Snapchat threatened to blow of several schools and targeted specific teachers at Forest and two other high schools.

A social media threat that targeted specific teachers at three Marion County high schools resulted in the arrest of an 18-year-old student Friday afternoon.

Shomari Akeil Clarke was being held Friday night at the Marion County Jail on 21 counts, including 20 felony charges, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's Lt. Paul Bloom said there's been an uptick in school threats over the past few weeks ranging from bomb scares to threats of mass shootings.

"These threats have had ... an effect of terror," Bloom said, "this threat of harm and this fear that's in the air. And it's disruptive, not just to the school. I know the person making these threats thinks maybe I'm just going to disrupt the school, shut the school down, but it affects the community."

The latest threat on Snapchat -- the second in two days -- promised to blow up every high school in the county and targeted 11 educators by name at Forest, Vanguard and West Port.

Bloom said the suspect, a male Forest High student, was arrested on campus by a school resource officer.

"[T]hat's the good news. He is ... arrested, and we know unfortunately it did complicate a lot of folks' day here and create a sense of fear among staff, teachers and students," the lieutenant said.

Mark Avery, president of the Marion Education Association, said this case is different in that it names specific educators, including five at Forest. He said three of those left campus or stayed home because of the threat.

Updated: January 19, 2024 at 9:08 PM EST
This story has been updated to include the name of the 18-year-old man arrested in connection with a threatening social media post.
Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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