Number of arrests goes up as law enforcement cracks down on school threats

Law enforcement across Tampa Bay put out a message to students Friday that they've been trying to hammer home all school year: stop making threats or you'll be charged with a felony.

This came after two more separate cases resulted in more arrests in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Nicholas Godfrey, 18, a student at Fivay High School in Hudson, was charged late Thursday with solicitation to commit murder, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. During a news conference Friday, investigators said Godfrey tried to hire a hitman to kill a staff member at his high school.

“He stated on a message within the Fivay Fan Club, and I quote, ‘I need a guy who could kill someone.’ Another quote was, ‘We have 100-thousand dollars for the victims head.’ And another quote was, ‘no joke, I need him eliminated as soon as possible,'" said Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Hours later, St. Petersburg Police announce the arrest of a 13-year-old in an unrelated case. The teenager is accused of threatening to shoot up Azalea Middle School.

"This is not a joke. Today the kid is 13 years of age," said Chief Anthony Holloway. "This is a serious crime. This is a felony, so they may have done nothing in their whole lives, they call in this threat, they make some type of threat, that's the first felony that's on their record."

Last week, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest of a 17-year-old accused of threatening to kill classmates.

These are the latest examples of what police and deputies across Tampa Bay are seeing: a rise in school threats. This has led to dozens of investigations and arrests and authorities told FOX 13 Friday the numbers are continuing to climb despite their warnings.

"Once a week, whether it's here in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, you're hearing about this almost everyday or every other day and it's like the message is not being relayed," Holloway said. "The parents tonight need to sit down and talk to their kids and explain to those kids exactly what they're doing."

Holloway said it's important for students to know it doesn't matter how old they are, if they're convicted of felonies, the issues will follow them for the rest of their lives.