The Herald Bulletin

April 22, 2014

Frankton school evacuated, no bomb found

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

FRANKTON, Ind. —

Students and staff were evacuated from Frankton-Lapel Jr./Sr. High School for two hours Tuesday morning after a bomb threat was found scrawled on a bathroom wall.

A student discovered the message, "there's a bomb in the school," penciled on the wall of a boys' bathroom in the school's junior high wing about 8 a.m., said Principal Greg Granger.

School administrators immediately alerted teachers and law enforcement authorities and evacuated 700 students and teachers to the Frankton United Methodist Church activity center a block away from school.

"They were out of here within about two or three minutes of the notification," said Granger. "The kids were told it was a drill, so at that point they didn't know anything."

Frankton Police Chief David Huffman said he rushed to the school and requested the assistance of a bomb-sniffing dog, which was dispatched from Delaware County Sheriff's Department.

In addition, two fire engines and ambulances from the Frankton Volunteer Fire Department were stationed in the school's parking lot as a precaution during the emergency.

Deputy Scott Brand, a member of the Delaware County explosive ordinance, unit and his dog, "Phoenix," spent about an hour searching the building for explosives.

They found no explosive devices.

"Almost every single time these are fake," said Frankton-Lapel Community Schools Superintendent Bobby Fields, who was at the school. "But as soon as you don't take it seriously, the worst happens."

Students trooped back to school about two hours after the evacuation and resumed classes.

Huffman, who is leading the investigation, said it's not clear who left the message or when. He said he was working on the assumption the message was left late Monday or early Tuesday morning.

"It's definitely a threat and we take it very seriously because the safety of the students is our top priority," Huffman said. But he wasn't certain what the appropriate charge would be if the person responsible is caught.

"I would say it was an intention issue," he said after students were cleared to return to classes. "Now we have made the school safe ... and we will start our investigation."

 Huffman said he is confident the identity of the person who left the message will emerge.

"It will get out. It's basically kids we're dealing with," he added. "Nobody does anything without telling somebody."

The bomb threat came amid heightened concern about school safety locally and throughout the country.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old Pendleton Heights Middle School student was arrested after posting a social media message threatening to kill students at the school, and prompted authorities to increase police security at the school.

It was also the same day that a 16-year-old high school student at Franklin Regional High School near Pittsburgh stabbed or slashed 21 students and a security guard before he was subdued by a school administrator.

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