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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Waldo woman Tuesday in connection to a handwritten bomb threat found in UF’s New Engineering Building last week.

Jessica Ward

Jessica I. Ward, a 24-year-old employee at the Java Hut Coffee Kiosk, located on the ground floor of the building, told investigators with University Police’s Criminal Investigations Division that she wrote the note, which was found in a first-floor women’s bathroom Nov. 16, in an effort to “leave work,” according to a news release.

Ward told police she wanted “me” time, according to the release.

Following the bomb threat, UPD evacuated the building and set up a perimeter until mid-afternoon. Police and K-9 units searched the building and found no evidence of a bomb.

UPD officers worked with the College of Engineering to narrow down a list of people potentially involved in writing the bomb threat, according to the release. After interviewing Ward, she told police she wrote the note. A warrant for her arrest was filed Monday.

Police arrested Ward this morning on a charge of false reports concerning planting a bomb, explosive, or weapon of mass destruction in, or committing arson against, state-owned property, or concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner. The offense is a second-degree felony.

Ward was released Tuesday in lieu of a $15,000 bond from the Alachua County Jail. She declined to comment.

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