Three students nabbed in connection with bomb threat at Whitley County High School
Four days after a phony bomb threat caused the evacuation of Williamsburg Plastics, Whitley County High School was dealing with its own bomb threat Monday evening after graffiti was found on a restroom wall indicating someone planned to blow up the school and kill everyone inside.
Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell announced Tuesday afternoon that deputies had caught the student responsible for writing the threat on a restroom wall and had charged two other students, who made bomb related comments.
"A student wanted to get out of school for the day," Harrell explained about the motive for the bomb threat.
About noon Tuesday, Whitley County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Lennon, a school resource officer, received a confession from a 16-year-old male student at the school, who admitted writing the graffiti on the bathroom wall.
Harrell said that 16-year-old gave police two statements. In one, he claimed it was a copycat of the Williamsburg Plastics case and in the other he admitted that he was trying to get out of school Tuesday.
Lennon charged the 16-year-old with first-degree terroristic threatening, which is a felony offense.
The graffiti, which was written in a restroom used by upper classmen, read, Tuesday the 26th "I will blow up the school and kill everyone in it."
Harrell said that there are no indications the student planned to actually carry out any bombing, such as diagrams or anything of that nature.
About 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, Lennon charged a 14-year-old female Whitley County Middle School student with disorderly conduct in an unrelated case.
"She made a statement in the hallway to fellow students that she helped make the bomb that was going to be used," Harrell said. "The other kids took her very seriously."
Later Tuesday, another 14-year-old male student made the same comments to other students that he helped make the bomb also.
Deputy Brian Lawson, another school resource officer, charged the 14-year-old male with disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor offense.
Harrell said the other students at the school did exactly what they should have done, which is report the threats to authorities.
"I would like to commend the students at Whitley County Middle and High School for their help in reporting the comments they heard to school officials and by doing so they helped keep everyone safe," Harrell said. "I am very proud of those students."
Harrell said rumors about a bomb threat circulated for several hours Monday before he and Whitley County Superintendent Scott Paul decided about 9 p.m. to have the school cleared and searched by bomb sniffing dogs as a precautionary measure.
Paul said that there had been a great deal of talk on social media about a rumor that there had been a bomb threat at the high school Monday.
Kentucky State Police and Constable Lonnie Foley, who works security for the school system, helped deputies search the building, which was already empty at the time.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said he received a call about 10 p.m. requesting that both of the department's bomb dogs respond to the high school.
Williamsburg Police Officers Brandon Prewitt and Jason Strunk responded to the high school with their dogs, Raz and Lee.
The two K-9 units worked for about two and one-half hours searching the school but didn't find anything, Bird said.
School officials then kept security in the school overnight to ensure the building was secure, Paul noted.
"The Whitley County School District greatly appreciates the efforts of our local law enforcement agencies to help us ensure the safety and security of the students of Whitley County," Paul added.
He noted that during his three years as superintendent he hadn't had to deal with a bomb threat until now.
Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett added during the 12 years she worked at the high school, she could only remember four or five bomb threats, which used to be more prevalent 30 years ago.
Trickett said that all three students are facing disciplinary action from the school district in addition to any criminal penalties they might face.
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