Bomb threat is felony crime
A bomb threat is no longer taken as a laughing matter by authorities.
A person who makes a false report that someone has placed, or intends to place, an explosive, destructive device or other destructive substance in a building or transportation facility violates Indiana Code: 35-44-2-2, which is a class D felony.
If convicted, a person faces a fine of $10,000 and real-time imprisonment of up to 3 years.
By IVY HERRON
Northview High School was evacuated Wednesday morning after administrators learned of a bomb threat, which later proved to be a hoax. While authorities began an investigation into the case, nervous students voiced concern to counselors while others made arrangements to go home after returning to class shortly before 10 a.m.
"Our primary concern was the safety of the students," Principal Tim Rayle said about the evacuation of approximately 1,300 students and staff members to the North Clay Middle School gymnasium. "Everyone did an excellent job during the evacuation. The teachers, support staff and students understood the seriousness of what was happening and were very professional under the circumstances. School is continuing and counselors will be available for students who need to talk."
Some students didn't want to stay and talk, they wanted to go home.
Kim Wheeler said her 16 years of experience with the emergency response unit at the Indiana Department of Corrections helped her understand why her child wanted to come home.
"He was uncomfortable about his safety," Wheeler said.
"They should have at least had the bomb squad unit check the building. (Sept. 11, 2001) has changed the lives of our children, their fears. They take this type of thing more serious than we did."
Understanding the concern, Rayle said it is a parent's right to take their child from school when concerned about their safety, but emphasized Northview is a safe environment.
"It is the utmost importance to keep everyone safe. (When the threat was made) we immediately implemented our guidelines in the school's emergency management plan and followed them to a 'T'," he said.
The state requires emergency management plans for all school facilities in the corporation, according to Supt. Dr. Dan Schroeder, who praised the Northview staff for their quick response.
"We will turn this matter over to law enforcement for prosecution," Schroeder said.
Members of Clay County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police worked with a 30-member safety specialist team to search each classroom. (Safety specialist teams, which are required to be implemented in every school by state law, are composed of staff volunteers trained by the state to search for suspicious packages.)
Nothing was located during the 40- to 45-minute search of the building, according to authorities on the scene, who are taking the apparent prank seriously.
"When we find the person responsible, we will prosecute them," Clay County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Maynard said. "This is no joke."
Indiana Code: 35-44-2-2 states that a person who makes a false report that someone has placed, or intends to place, an explosive, destructive device or other destructive substance in a building or transportation facility commits a class D felony, which is punishable with a fine of $10,000 and real-time imprisonment of up to 3 years.
Worried about "copycat" attempts, Maynard said specific details will not be made available about the case due to the ongoing investigation.
The question of whether there is another prankster out there could be mute, according to Principal Rayle.
"I've talked to students about what happened and they are not happy," he said. "They can't believe a fellow student, or anyone, would do something like this. Some have offered to inform us if they find out anything."