October 4, 2001

SCR-I Schools Evacuated Following Discovery Of Written Bomb Threat

The fears of school violence and the concerns generated by the recent national tragedies boiled over at the Scotland County R-I School system October 2 when a bomb threat was received at the school.

A handwritten note addressed to the school administration threatening that bombs had been placed in both school buildings was located in a high school classroom by a teacher.

At approximately 10:25 a.m. the Scotland County Sheriff's Department and the Memphis Police Department were notified regarding the threat. They were joined at the scene by troopers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Once law enforcement was on scene, school officials began an orderly evacuation of both the elementary and high school buildings. Students were then bused to the Scotland County Fairgrounds where a trans-portation center was established. The children were then released to their immediate family members or were placed on a bus to be taken home.

The Scotland County Fire Department was dispatched to the scene to assist in the evacuation of the buildings and the surrounding neighborhood.

Traffic was stopped in a one-block radius of the buildings and the homeowners were warned of the situation.

Once the buildings were completely evacuated, law enforcement and fire department personnel broke up into two-person teams and began a search of the classrooms and student lockers in both buildings. At the same time, a canine unit from the Missouri State Fire Marshall's office was en route to the scene.

A 15-year old suspect was taken into custody at the scene. The individual was being questioned by juvenile authorities as well as representatives of the Fire Marshall's office and the local law enforcement departments at press time.

Handwriting samples were collected at the scene along with other pertinent evidence according to law officers.

Officers at the scene stressed the severity of the crime and indicated a juvenile could still be charged as an adult in such a situation.

"It's not a joke. It's not a prank. Plain and simple, it's a crime," said a law enforcement officer at the scene. "Kids need to realize that this type of deal is anything but a joke, and they must realize that the punishment can be swift and severe."

The bomb-sniffing dog arrived on the scene at approximately 3:45 p.m. The high school building was searched and no evidence of any dangerous materials was located. The north school also was clean of any bomb-related materials.

At press time no decision had been made on whether school would be canceled Wednesday, October 3, but the school administration had indicated a desire to not let such a crime interrupt school any further.

Despite the severity of the issue, Superintendent LeRoy Huff had nothing but praise for the school's staff as well as the emergency service personnel who he stated did a professional job under the conditions.

"While it is a tragedy that something like this befalls our school, I must applaud the efforts made by the school staff and the law enforcement and fire department personnel who did an excellent job controlling this situation."

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