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Bomb threat was a hoax

MURFREESBORO – Officials with Hertford County Public Schools (HCPS) are praising the quick response of local authorities after a bomb threat was called in to the county’s middle school here Wednesday.

The threat turned out to be a hoax.

According to Brunet Parker, a spokesperson for HCPS, the threat was made by a phone call at 11:57 a.m. to the middle school office.

“All protocol was followed at that point,” said Parker. “First and foremost, all students and staff were quickly evacuated from all indoor areas of the school and assembled safely outside.

“The (HCPS) Superintendent was notified, as were all emergency responders from the town (Murfreesboro) and county,” Parker added. “Those emergency responders arrived very quickly and a complete sweep of all areas inside the school was performed.”

Additionally, Parker said middle school principal Crystal Phillips followed protocol by sending an alert (by phone) to the parents or guardians of all the HCMS students.

Other than HCPS officials, responding agencies included the Murfreesboro Police Department, Murfreesboro Fire Department, Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, Hertford County Emergency Management, and Hertford County Emergency Medical units.

“The students returned to class at 1 p.m. after the all clear notification was given by those that searched the school for any type of suspicious device,” Parker said. “We thank all the responding agencies for looking out for the safety of our students and our staff.”

The local District Attorney’s office in Hertford County – citing North Carolina General State Statute 14-69.1 (Making a false report concerning destructive device) – said any person who, by any means of communication to any person or groups of persons, makes a report, knowing or having reason to know the report is false, that there is located in or in sufficient proximity to cause damage to any public building (to include a school) any device designed to destroy or damage the public building by explosion, blasting, or burning, is guilty of a Class H felony.

If found guilty, the maximum sentence is 39 months in prison.

Additionally, the court may order a person convicted under this section to pay restitution, including costs and consequential damages resulting from the disruption of the normal activity that would have otherwise occurred on the premises had it not been for the false report. In the case of Wednesday’s bomb threat at HCMS, the person convicted of making that call could have to pay for all costs incurred by the local emergency responders as well as the lost instructional time for the students.

And young people (under age 18) are not exempt. In many states, including North Carolina, those under age 18 can still be tried as an adult, depending on the seriousness of the crime and the judge’s discretion.

In 2013, a former Huntington Beach (California) High School student was sentenced to four and a half months in jail after pleading guilty to making a false bomb threat at the school

Meanwhile, youngsters playing pranks could face juvenile detention or other penalties. Parents should make children aware of the ramifications of such pranks or actual threats.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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