The Chewelah Police Department is still investigating a bomb threat at Jenkins High School on Oct. 25.
All Jenkins High School students and staff were evacuated off school grounds on Thursday afternoon due to a handwritten note threatening that a bomb would go off at 2 p.m. However, no explosive device was discovered following a thorough search of the premises.
Chewelah Schools Superintendent Rick Linehan said a student found the note in a girl’s bathroom and reported it to the office during lunchtime that day, around 12:15 p.m. Chewelah police were then contacted and instructed the school to evacuate immediately, Linehan said.
Students were escorted by teachers and staff on foot to the Jenkins Middle School gymnasium, on the west side of Lincoln Street, to await the end of the school day. Linehan said all parents were alerted by phone of the circumstances and were given permission to pick up their children early from school. Jenkins Middle School students continued class as normal.
Linehan said JMS provided students a warm place to wait until the building was cleared.
Chewelah Police Chief Troy Anderson said the Chewelah Police Department reported to the scene with the help of the Chewelah Fire Department who secured the perimeter. Chewelah Rural Ambulance was on standby as well.
The Washington State Patrol, Stevens County Sheriff’s office, U.S. Marshals office, Fairchild Air Force Base, Springdale Town Marshal, and Spokane City Police also reported to the scene.
Four explosive sniffing dogs searched the entire campus, but found no evidence of any explosive device. The dogs were dispatched from the U.S. Marshals office and Fairchild Air Force Base.
Law enforcement officials cleared the high school grounds and released the building back to the school district around 3:25 p.m. when students were allowed back to collect their belongings and vehicles parked in the school parking lot.
Similar bomb threats occurred at two other regional school districts the same week as JHS. Both were found to be false alarms and nothing was recovered. Media reports indicate that notes were found in the girl’s bathroom at Deer Park High School on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and at Bonners Ferry High School on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Anderson said this appears to be a “copycat” but will not be treated as a prank. He said a lot of resources were utilized and taken away from rest of community. The person will be held accountable for the bomb threat when identified.
Bomb threats are charged as a felony and minors may be charged as an adult and face major monetary penalties.
Linehan although it may have been a false threat, it was a real event that was handled through the proper emergency management plan procedures.
“The emergency protocol was followed with diligence,” Linehan said. “The teachers, kids handled themselves well during the emergency.”
The school district is offering a $100 reward in Cougar Bucks (that can be spent for school related expenses) for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who wrote the threatening note.
The district has also set up a hotline for anyone to call with anonymous information to help find the person responsible. The number for the hotline is 935-7001.
The Chewelah Police Department is the lead investigator on the case, which is still under investigation. Call the Chewelah Police at 935-6555 with any information.
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Chewelah Fire Department and Springdale Town Marshal help secure perimeter at Lincoln Ave. and 5th Street East.