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Teen arrested for three bomb threats

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Clayton County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 14-year-old Morrow High School student for making bomb threats to the 911 center Monday and Tuesday. He faces several misdemeanor and felony charges.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Clayton County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 14-year-old Morrow High School student for making bomb threats to the 911 center Monday and Tuesday. He faces several misdemeanor and felony charges.

A Morrow High School student was arrested, Wednesday morning, for making back-to-back bomb threats this week, creating havoc at the school two days in a row.

In one call made Monday to the Clayton County 911 Center, the caller tells the dispatcher he has placed a bomb in the school gym. He claims that the bomb will detonate at 3 p.m. Then, he makes his demand.

"I need $2 million," he said.

But when the dispatcher asks where the money should be delivered, he falters, and hangs up.

A second call was made Monday, and a third made the next day, said Clayton Sheriff Kem Kimbrough. The 14-year-old boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, has been charged with three counts of felony terroristic threats, three counts of misdemeanor unlawful conduct during a 911 call, and two counts of disruption of a public school.

The boy was booked into the Clayton County Jail and transferred to the Regional Youth Detention Center. He is scheduled to make his first appearance Friday in Clayton Juvenile Court.

Kimbrough said it is obvious that the calls were made as a prank. "It's really sad, because I'm sure, to him, it was a prank and he didn't fully understand the consequences of his actions," he said. "And I'm sure the courts will take that into consideration."

Dr. Douglas Hendrix, Clayton County Schools chief human resources officer, agreed.

“Kid will be kids,” he said. “Students never think [calls] will be traced back to them.”

However, he said, the calls had to be taken seriously.

"The significance of all this is all the resources that were dedicated to make sure all the students were safe, and that there was no actual bomb," said Kimbrough. "There was a disruption in routine, it concerned a lot of parents, all over a prank."

Officers and K-9 units from MARTA, Atlanta and Clayton County police departments, and other jurisdictions, were called in to help sweep the building. No explosives were found, he said.

"There was a significant amount of manpower and resources," said Kimbrough. "Parents need to talk to their children, and let them know there are consequences to their actions."

Hendrix said the school followed protocol in locking down the school both days.

“The Advance Policy Firewall says the standard is to search the building first," said Hendrix. “If people are moving, they can trigger the bomb.”

Hendrix recalled an incident at Westside Middle School, in Arkansas, on March 24, 1998, where two students pulled the fire alarm, prompting an evacuation. Once students and faculty were outside the building, the armed students, two boys, ages 13 and 11, ambushed them, killing five and injuring 10.

“We don’t want something like that happening,” said Hendrix. “We take threats very seriously.”

Kimbrough said the calls were made from a cell phone by the juvenile while he was inside the school, attending classes. This is the second time this scholastic year that juveniles have been charged with making bomb threats aimed at their schools.

In October, Clayton County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Crisp said, two juveniles were charged in connection with a bomb threat made at Charles Drew High School. Crisp said the threat was called in by a juvenile using his mother's disconnected cell phone. The sheriff's office, assisted by local and metro Atlanta bomb technicians, responded to the school and searched in vain for a destructive device, he said.

An investigation led Clayton deputies to the two juveniles, and they have been charged, said Crisp. They were not identified because of their ages.

Kimbrough said Wednesday’s the arrests were the first in recent memory for juveniles making threats toward their schools. He isn't sure why.

"The history of Clayton County, in the past ... Clayton County law enforcement has not made arrests of juveniles making bomb threats," he said. "They may turn out to be just a hoax, but you have to take them seriously."

Hendrix said the student who was arrested will be suspended from school, and face a tribunal.

Staff writer Jeylin White contributed to this article.