A Warren County High School student has been charged with calling in a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of Bobby Ray Elementary yesterday.
The 15-year-old male, who is a ninth-grader and has not been identified, has been charged by the district attorney’s office with filing a false report. It would be a class C felony if he was an adult.
Since he is a juvenile, he has been served with a delinquency petition and is scheduled to appear in juvenile court Monday. He will be held in juvenile detention until his court date, according to McMinnville Police Chief Charlie Sewell.
“We knew who it was and were able to apprehend him in about half an hour,” said District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis. “People need to know that with today’s technology, if you’re going to do this, you’re going to get caught.”
Added Chief Sewell, “Upon analysis of the voice message, a suspect was developed. A Warren County school student was questioned and confessed to making the threat to the school.”
According to Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale, a secretary at Bobby Ray discovered the message on a voice mail Thursday morning. Police were dispatched at 7:49 a.m.
The person gave a phony name and indicated he had planted a bomb at Bobby Ray that would be detonated Thursday. The name given turned out to be a real student who has a history of confrontations with the student who is charged. The student reportedly told investigators he called in the bomb threat using the other person’s name because he thought it would get him in trouble.
The school was evacuated and students were bused to Warren County Middle School. The buses entered the lower level of Nunley Stadium and drove around the track before unloading students on the bleachers on the home side of the stadium.
Parents were told they could pick up their children and most of them did, according to Hale. Parents were kept outside the stadium and were required to show proper ID before their child was brought to them at the gate.
“Something like this is never good, but I was pleased with how the staffs at both schools handled it,” said Hale. “We have a safety plan on file, and a very elaborate one at that, and it was nice to see that plan was well executed.”
Hale said this is the first bomb threat for a Warren County school since he has been director. He said the last bomb threat he recalls was in the 1990s when the school system received two in one day for Dibrell and WCHS.
Hale said the decision to move students to Nunley Stadium was made largely because of bathroom facilities.
“We had to clear the building and couldn’t let anyone back in,” said Hale. “If it would have been for 30 minutes or an hour, that would have been OK, but the dogs weren’t immediately available so we didn’t know how long it would be so we moved to another campus for bathroom facilities.”
Hale said it was right around noon when the school was cleared by bomb-detecting dogs for students to return for the few remaining who had not been picked up. No one was injured.