Bomb threat in Pickerington

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"I’m going to blow up the intire [sic] building in three days," stated the note signed by "Skitzo" and dated Sept. 19, 2007.

According to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s report, authorities at Pickerington North High School (PNHS) discovered the threat scrawled upon a wall in the boy’s bathroom around noon Sept. 19.

PNHS Principal Mike Smith contacted the sheriff’s office and sent the staff an e-mail advisory.

Investigators reviewed security tapes to determine the identities of students that entered the bathroom that morning.

After school that day and before school the next morning, teams searched the building, Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia said.

The district, for safety reasons and because the investigation is ongoing, will not address all of the security procedures, Communications Director Amanda Morris said.

"At Pickerington Local Schools we care about our students and staff members," Morris said. "Their safety is our number one priority.  

Several security sweeps and other measures had already taken place in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies prior to students entering the school on Sept. 20. Every situation is unique and for this case, the most appropriate place for students to be was in the classrooms continuing with the learning process while the appropriate law enforcement agencies conducted an additional search of the school."

The next day, the school administration requested bomb-sniffing dogs visit the building. Because Fairfield County does not have such a canine unit, the Columbus Fire Bomb Squad responded.

Along with the Bomb Squad, members of the Columbus Airport Police, Ohio State University Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol arrived and the school "went into lockdown" from 9:25 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. while the building was searched, according to the report.

The administration sent notes home with the students informing the parents of the lockdown.

"I am pleased to report that no explosive threat was found during this search and the school returned to normal education activities," Smith said in the note. "While we take this situation seriously, it is important for all of us to remain calm.  Precautions have been taken to ensure everyone’s safety.  PNHS is an excellent school that is continuing to provide high quality learning environments for every student."

Charles McMarrow, a father of a Pickerington North student, asked Mantia at the Sept. 24 school board meeting why the parents did not receive notice until Sept. 20 if the threat had been discovered on Sept. 19.

"If you were told there was a bomb threat here, but it was not set to go off until Wednesday, would you still be comfortable coming here for a meeting?" McMarrow said. "It is inherently backwards to have kids go back to a place not secure."

"The number one thing we are concerned about is the safety of the students," Mantia said. "The kids were safe. Trust me."

Originally the homecoming dance was scheduled for Sept. 22, but Morris said that the dance had been rescheduled to Sept. 23 prior to the bomb threat because it conflicted with another school activity.

"At this time, administrators with the school are interviewing students regarding this matter," wrote Deputy Mark Bennington in the police report.

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