CLEARWATER — The man said he just wanted to make a joke.
But authorities didn't find John Mitchell Doherty of Gulfport very funny.
They say the 32-year-old man made several calls at about 11 a.m. Thursday to the National Aviation Academy, 6225 Ulmerton Road. He told the school there was a bomb inside and that the building was going to blow up.
Authorities immediately evacuated the school and a nearby Bally's Total Fitness at 13455 U.S. 19 N., which was full of customers. They spent the next two hours searching inside and outside the area, but came up empty.
Using phone records, investigators were able to trace the origin of the threatening phone calls, and arrested Doherty less than 24 hours later on Friday.
He faces two counts of making a false report of a bomb. He remained in jail Saturday in lieu of $20,000 bail. Doherty told Pinellas deputies he was sorry for what he did, according to an arrest affidavit.