Bomb squad clears Paxton School; suspect in custody

Published 11:45 am Monday, March 24, 2014

A scary situation at a school in Paxton, Fla. was defused, so to speak, Monday when a bomb threat led to an evacuation and an arrest.

Deputies with the Walton County Sheriff’s Department arrested 30-year-old Adam Joseph Allen, of 1906 Huckaba Rd. in Laurel Hill, Fla., after he allegedly sent an email to school officials claiming there was a pipe bomb on campus.



Walton County Superintendent Carlene H. Anderson said Paxton Principal Beth Tucker received the email at 8:30 a.m., and emergency procedures were immediately instituted in order to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

Anderson said a bomb squad from the Bay County Sheriff’s Department was deployed to the scene, where they processed and cleared the area and the facility.

Officials with the Bay County Sheriff’s Department said the bomb squad handles a 10-county area.

Anderson said students were immediately moved to a secure location, and remained there with faculty and staff until the area was cleared; however, parents were allowed to pick up their children if they so chose. A deputy was stationed on Hwy. 331 in order to direct parents to the students’ location. Parents who chose to pick up their kids were asked to be prepared to provide photo identification.

Catherine Rodriguez, public information officer for the Walton County Sheriff’s Department, said Allen does not appear to have a connection to the school, which houses grades k-5 through twelfth, and was taken into custody within four hours of the incident after his Internet Protocol (IP) address led a cyber-crimes investigator to his home.

Rodriguez said a complete search of the school, buses and vehicles turned up no threatening devices, and Allen was charged with threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device.

Anderson said it was very reassuring to see the school administration, district staff and the sheriff’s department smoothly institute the procedures that have been put into place to ensure safety and security during such an incident.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., students and staff were allowed to return to the facility to retrieve their vehicles. Anderson said school will resume tomorrow.