Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
By Shelley Grieshop
Bomb threat evacuates school
NEW KNOXVILLE - A bomb threat scribbled on a bathroom wall led to an evacuation Tuesday afternoon of students and staff at New Knoxville Local School.
Two dogs with the Lima-Allen County Bomb Disposal Unit searched the school and grounds but found no explosive devices or suspicious articles, according to Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon. No arrests have been made.
School superintendent Kim Waterman said prior to the evacuation two students alerted her and the high school principal to a brief message - "Yes, this is a bomb threat" - written in pencil on a small tile in an upstairs boys bathroom.
"We immediately made the decision to evacuate everyone," Waterman said.
The school was vacated about 2 p.m. and students were dismissed approximately 15 minutes later, she said. Officials utilized a "One Call Now" notification system to inform parents that students were being sent home early.
During the evacuation, several boys told officials they saw the threatening message on the wall as early as Monday, Waterman said.
"That eased our pain a little bit," she added.
Classes resumed on schedule today. Authorities are continuing to investigate the situation and may be assisted by surveillance cameras in use throughout the school, Waterman said.
She hopes her students understand the seriousness of the situation.
"Kids need to take it seriously," she said, adding such incidents are disruptive and can be dangerous.
Solomon said the bomb threat tied up emergency resources in the county for several hours. Assisting at the scene were deputies, New Knoxville Police and Fire departments, St. Marys Fire and EMS and officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The sheriff said the school reacted quickly and appropriately. He hesitated to comment on Tuesday's incident in fear of giving attention to the perpetrator(s).
"We will not give credit to these individuals and will do everything in our power to find them and prosecute them," Solomon said.
He believes media attention may have influenced five bomb threats in the Lima school district during the last month. Each time officials have cancelled classes and/or moved students to another location as a safety precaution. The cost of emergency response for each incident is estimated at $7,000.
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested and charged for one of the bomb threats in Lima. If tried as an adult, Paul Minor Jr. faces up to eight years in prison.
Solomon said the county prosecutor would determine what charges would be filed in the New Knoxville incident if a suspect is arrested.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 90 percent of all bomb threats are hoaxes. Bomb incidents involving real bombs are rare and relatively few bomb explosions are preceded by a warning or a threat, the DOJ stated in a study released last year.
The most common means of delivery of a bomb threat is via telephone. Motives include humor, self assertion, anger, manipulation, aggression, hate, fantasy and retaliation, the federal agency said.
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