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Student charged with felony for bomb threat

The Pierce County Bomb Squad responded to Bonney Lake High School Feb. 14 when a false bomb threat was called in by a 15-year-old student. Photo by Brian Beckley -
The Pierce County Bomb Squad responded to Bonney Lake High School Feb. 14 when a false bomb threat was called in by a 15-year-old student. Photo by Brian Beckley
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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The Bonney Lake Police Department arrested a 15-year-old student in connection to a bomb threat called in to Bonney Lake High School Feb. 14.

According to Officer Rob Kearney, the suspect was taken into custody about noon Feb. 15 at the high school.

“The suspect was charged with threatening to bomb a building or property,” Kearney said. “It is a class C felony and the student was taken and booked into Remann Hall.”

Kearney said while at school, the suspect borrowed a cell phone from a friend and made the call stating a bomb was in a locker.

Bonney Lake High students were evacuated to the Mountain View Middle School gymnasium while the building was searched. Buses were routed to the gymnasium and students were released at the normal time.

According to Kearney, a bomb-sniffing dog from Fort Lewis and the Pierce County Sheriff's Department Bomb Squad were brought to the site.

During the search the dog initially found a scent in a locker indicating a bomb. A robot was sent in by the bomb squad, but nothing was found.

Police officials said many things in lockers and at schools could give a false-positive scent to the dog. Also a vent leading to a science laboratory was located above the locker that could have thrown the dog off.

The evacuation and search lasted about four hours.

The suspect, who has no criminal history, confessed to Kearney during an interview.

“The staff (at the school) and I worked very closely together,” Kearney said. “We received some leads and we brought the suspect in and it went really quick.”

Bonney Lake Police Chief Buster McGehee said the school and police determined the threat was serious.

“We don't take any chances,” McGehee said. “The school district and kids were all very cooperative.”

The motive for the crime has not been determined by investigators, but Sumner School District spokesperson Ann Cook said, “these threats are never considered a prank. Whether the credibility of the threat is deemed high or low we need to go through the process.”

Cook said bomb threats occur one to six times a year, and usually the cases are broken with information from fellow students.

“The kids know,” Cook said. “That's how we resolve these quickly. Kids are coming to us more and more. The staff and the students have a strong, positive relationship. The kids feel safe bringing information forward. It's very rewarding for the people working in the building.”

Cook also noted parents were updated immediately by e-mail of the threat and evacuation.

“We want to encourage everyone to sign up (for the alert program) at work, home or use a grandparent,” Cook said. “It's the quickest and most effective way for us to communicate.”

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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