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Bomb threat at Frenchtown schools; authorities have list of suspects

2014-03-20T15:23:00Z 2014-03-21T12:38:10Z Bomb threat at Frenchtown schools; authorities have list of suspectsBy KATHRYN HAAKE The Missoulian Helena Independent Record
March 20, 2014 3:23 pm  • 

FRENCHTOWN – About 600 students were evacuated from Frenchtown middle and high schools Thursday morning after a bomb threat was found scrawled on a bathroom mirror.

“There will be a bomb going off in this school,” said the threat, written in green highlighter in a boys’ bathroom at the middle school.

Frenchtown Superintendent Randy Cline said the note prompted the evacuation of middle school students immediately.

The high school was also evacuated after the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department arrived, he said.

Students who are able to drive were sent home immediately; all others were taken to the Frenchtown Elementary School gymnasium to wait for their parents.

“This was considered to not be a viable threat, but it was a threat (and) we wanted to make sure everyone was safe,” Cline said.

Cline and sheriff’s deputies remained at the school and completed a visual search for the bomb. A bomb-searching dog was also brought to the school to complete a sniff search.

They found no indication that there was an actual bomb at the school, he said.

Cline said school policy calls for an evacuation when there is a bomb threat, and classes are canceled for the remainder of the day.

Sheriff’s department spokeswoman Paige Pavalone said classes will resume Friday.

Cline said the threat may have been inspired by multiple school bomb threats in Helena on Wednesday.

All elementary schools in the capital city were evacuated after Helena police received a phone call from an anonymous caller who said that he had placed a bomb in an elementary school.

“I can’t say for sure, but in my experience these things run in bunches and feed off of each other,” Cline said. “The fact that it happened in Helena yesterday may have some impact, but obviously that’s not for certain.”

He said because the note was found in a middle-school bathroom, administrators suspect a male middle school student to be the author of the note. Cline said the school has a list of suspects.

Cline said the incident will require the school to review its procedures. If another bomb threat occurs, the school will examine the seriousness of the threat and respond accordingly.

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