April 30, 2009 · Updated 11:58 AM
By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald
A bomb rocked the back side of Westwood Elementary School Monday night, causing minor damage but disrupting the Tuesday morning routine for faculty members and approximately 400 students.
An explosive device was tucked into a duct of one of the school's heat pumps, just a few feet from an exterior wall. Initial reports indicate there was no damage to the school wall, although four large windows - stretching across two classrooms - were shattered.
Neighbors reported hearing the explosion about 8:30 Monday evening.
Misty Crick, whose home faces the rural school across 212th Avenue Southeast, said the blast was intense enough to shake her walls and rattle the nerves of her teenage daughter.
The damage wasn't discovered until Tuesday morning.
School officials immediately notified the King County Sheriff's Department, then made plans to send Westwood students - in kindergarten through fifth grade - to Thunder Mountain Middle School. Buses arriving at Westwood were forwarded to the middle school; kids arriving either on foot or transported by parents were sent directly to waiting buses, then whisked to Thunder Mountain. None were allowed inside Westwood.
Bomb experts investigated the scene and police performed a search of the school. Finding everying in order, they gave the OK for students to be returned to Westwood. Shortly after 11 a.m., buses returned kids to their school.
Editor's note: The following is the letter sent home Monday afternoon with Enumclaw School District students.
As a parent of two children in our school system myself, I feel the first message that I need to share is that all of our students and staff members at Westwood Elementary are safe.
Today at time 8:15 a.m., I was notified by the Westwood principal that the school's head custodian had just informed her that he had found a device that had exploded. This device was found within the ducting of a heat pump located outside of the school. The King County Sheriff was immediately called and responded quickly. Minor damage was caused to the building. Individuals who had entered the building were sent out. Students had not started to enter the building for the day and were kept on the buses as they arrived. Students who walked to school were also placed on those buses. Students and staff members were taken to Thunder Mountain Middle School. Parents were notified by the media and the district website that their children had been transported to Thunder Mountain. Some parents chose to pick up their children at TMMS.
After doing a complete search of Westwood Elementary, the King County Sheriff's Department determined that the building was safe. At approximately 11:00, students were then transported back to Westwood Elementary, went to their classrooms and school continued as normal.
The students, parents and staff are to be commended for responding appropriately to this situation. I would like to personally thank everyone for their assistance. Again, the safety of our students is our highest priority. I also appreciate the expertise of the King County Sheriff's Office in determining the safety of our facility. We, as a school system, will continue to do all that we can to insure the safety of our children and staff. Thank you for your partnership in helping us achieve this goal.