Police: Threat against Florida Department of Health was a hoax

54-year old now charged with making a false report to authorities

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA)—A St. Pete man was arrested on Monday, after police say he phoned in threats to a Department of Children and Families hotline.

The threats were aimed at the branch in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg Police spokesman Rick Shaw says 54-year old Ohde Odom called the hotline threatening violence against the staff and patrons.

“And he claimed that he was going to get some weapons, some guns and make the news,”  said Shaw.  “He also threatened to get several machine guns and barricade himself inside and he would make the news.”

Odom phoned in the threatening messages last week and police later determined the threats were not credible.

Odom was arrested on Monday and charged with false report of a bomb or weapon of mass destruction.

Police wouldn’t elaborate on why there was a lag between the date of the offense and the date he was arrested, but his arrest report does indicate he may have mental issues.

Several years ago, a similar threat forced the evacuation of the department of health building on Martin Luther King Jr. St. In St. Petersburg.

A man left a briefcase unattended near the building and according to police, told people there was a bomb in the case.  The bomb squad blew up the case and the man was arrested.

Kelly Gail has worked at the Coney Island Sandwich Shop across the street for 25 years.  She cringes when she thinks about that incident a few years ago.

“It was scary.  Because you really didn’t know and to see the robot that looked like Johnny number 5 you know coming out into the middle of the street,” said Gail, referring to the robot in the movie ‘short Circuit.  “You really don’t know.  Is this something serious that you have to worry about or is it something that’s just a prank. ”

Because the threat wasn’t credible, it was business as usual at the health department.  Maggie Hall, a spokeswoman for the agency, says employees go through rigorous training to prepare for the possibility of a scare such as this one.  “We train them every year on how to handle situations like that, including active shooter training,” she said.

Odom remains behind bars on a $10,000 bond.  He doesn’t appear to have prior arrests in Pinellas County.



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