Police and school officials respond to a string of school threat - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police and school officials respond to a string of school threats

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

After two threats were found on the walls of Ooltewah High School, more than half of the student body stayed home on Thursday.

The school says they found no credibility to the threats, but parents and family members of students said they were not taking any chances.

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"I honestly think it's just someone looking for attention, and this is definitely not the right way to get attention for sure," said OHS graduate Jeffrey Covington.

Covington's younger sister was one of hundreds of students kept home Tuesday.
    
School administrators say they're disappointed by the absences but understand the fears of parents.

"Yea she stayed home yesterday and I think one other day this week," Covington said.

The threats at Ooltewah High School are a part of a string of disruptions across the district in the last week.

On Wednesday, parents received a text of a threat reported at East Hamilton High.

It reads, "Parents and Guardians, This morning we found a suspicious statement on the bathroom wall, which said “the school shall pay”.  I have notified law enforcement and my superiors at the central office.  In light of recent similar incidences at other Hamilton County schools, we are investigating and all appropriate procedures are in place.   Our top priority is to maintain the safety and well-being of our school community."

East Ridge Middle was evacuated and bomb sniffing dogs sent in to clear the building. That text alert said, "We have received a bomb threat at ERMS. The police are searching the building. Students are evacuated and safe. The office is currently unmanned."

Police responded to all of the campuses and determined there were no credible threats. They released this statement in about the bomb threat:

              “East Ridge Middle School received a bomb threat in the form of graffiti written on a bathroom wall. The Chattanooga Bomb Squad was called by ERPD. The bomb squad cleared the cafeteria and gym and the students were evacuated to those areas while the bomb squad cleared the remaining areas of the school. Nothing was found and students were returned to class on their regular schedule”

Two Signal Mountain High School students are suspended for the rest of the year and facing criminal charges for threats made to that school.

"From experience and from training, some of the red flags that something could be actually to it," said Police Chief Mike Williams, "So we needed to stop it immediately, and that's what happened."

Chief Williams says a student reported that threat.

"The way we found out about this and the way we stopped it was a student stepped up," Williams said.

Chief Williams says the history of the students involved, the way the threat is communicated, and any evidence found by police helps determine if a threat is real.
    
It's up to the school district to communicate with parents when, and if, a threat is reported.

"It's a very fine line between what information is given out and what's not so you don't create panic or don't create concern where there is none," Chief Williams said.

Hamilton County Assistant Superintendent Lee McDade says every threat is being investigated, even if believed to be a copy cat, and no threat will be downplayed.

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