PCHS bomb threat still under investigation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Features Editor

A potential suspect in the Friday bomb threat at Pike County High School "didn’t pan out," but the incident is still under investigation, said Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport.

"At 7:04 Friday morning, a 911 call came into the Brundidge Police Department," Davenport said. "The dispatcher who took the call

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said the voice was that of a young, black male – a kid. The dispatcher said he made no apparent attempt to disguise his voice. He just said right out that there was a bomb in the boiler room at Pike County High School."

Davenport said an officer was dispatched immediately to PCHS to make school officials aware of the situation.

Because school was not yet in session, most of the students on campus were either in the cafeteria for breakfast or on the grounds.

"The school has a policy in place and they followed it quickly and adequately," Davenport said. "Our on-duty and off-duty officers were all called to the scene and the Brundidge Volunteer Fire Department also responded."

A sweep "around the base of the stadium" turned up nothing suspicious and the students were quickly evacuated to there, Davenport said.

"Our officers began a sweep of all the buildings on campus, beginning, of course, with the boiler room," the police chief said. "We looked in every cabinet, every drawer, every place that a bomb could conceivably be placed. We made a clean sweep and found absolutely nothing."

A trace on the 911 call revealed the call was made at a pay telephone in Banks.

The sheriff’s department was notified, responded and did come up with a potential suspect, Davenport said.

"This youngster was seen in the vicinity of the telephone booth around the time the 911 call was made," Davenport said, adding the dispatcher who took the call was later made privy to a telephone conversation with the potential suspect. "The dispatcher was very sure that this kid was not the one who made the call. The language was different and even the same words used in the call were different. It was not the same kid, the dispatcher was sure of that."

Being without a suspect, the investigation is still open and Davenport said his department is actively looking for clues into who made the prank call.

"We hope this doesn’t give anyone else any ideas," he said. "We don’t want to have any copy cats after this incident. We want to stress the seriousness of making a threatening call. Even if the call is a prank, it is treated as a felony and the consequences are very, very serious."

Last year, Gov. Don Siegelman’s signature made it a Class C felony to make a bomb threat to a school and increased the maximum penalty from one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to 10 years in prison with a $5,000 fine attached.

That law went into effect June 1, 2000.

Siegelman has also asked the Alabama Legislature for $1.3 million to put video cameras in middle and high schools to improve safety on those campuses. PCHS is one of the schools that has benefited from that money.

Davenport said anyone who has any information about the call, is asked to contact the Brundidge Police Department at (334) 735-3333 or the Pike County Sheriff’s Department at 566-4347.

Terry Casey, principal of PCHS, said the response of the Brundidge Police Department was immediate and thorough.

"We responded immediately with the policy we have in place at the school," he said. "Thankfully, it turned out to be a prank call, but we take any threat seriously. We can’t afford not to."