Traumatized Washington state high school hit by more bomb threats

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 15, 2015 5:33 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state high school that was the scene of a shooting rampage last October was hit with a second day of phoned-in threats of violence on Thursday though police said they believed the calls were hoaxes.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School, located an hour north of Seattle, was evacuated on Wednesday and athletic events were canceled after a phone-call bomb threat was made to a school office on Wednesday, though police gave the all clear after a search with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Then on Thursday, a robotic phone call received by school staff warned of three metric tons of TNT in a truck in a school parking lot with 10 Russian gunmen nearby. A second call, earlier in the morning, threatened law enforcement.

Police working with school district officials determined the calls were hoaxes, though an investigation into the threats was ongoing, Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said in a statement. Students and staff were not ordered to flee and there was no school lockdown after Thursday's threats.

The threats tested the emotions of a community still recovering from the shooting in which a 15-year-old boy opened fire on a cafeteria gathering of his cousins and three close friends he had arranged via text message, before turning the gun on himself.

The killings marked the latest in a string of shooting rampages at U.S. schools and other public places that have renewed a national debate about student safety and the extent of gun control regulation.

Mary Schoenfeldt, hired as Director of Recovery for the school district in the wake of the shooting, said Wednesday's evacuation forced still-fragile students back into the moment-by-moment terrors they experienced on Oct. 24.

"For our students to hear an announcement and to hear an alarm sound and have to go out to a place where they had been evacuated before - it just brought all those intense emotions back up for people," Schoenfeldt said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)