UPDATED: Park City police officers, K-9 unit investigate bomb hoax at junior high
A note found at Treasure Mountain Junior High School on Thursday indicated there was a bomb in the Kearns Boulevard building, the Park City Police Department said, a threat that drew a significant law enforcement response to the school before it was determined to be a hoax.
The school said in a statement administrators found the note, describing it as being a “possible hoax.” Wade Carpenter, the chief of police, said a staffer found a note, which he described as “crudely handwritten,” indicating there was a bomb in a storage closet at the school’s library. The junior high contacted a Police Department officer assigned to the schools at approximately 9:30 a.m. The officer reviewed the note and called for the law enforcement response. There were several Police Department vehicles outside the school or leaving the immediate vicinity at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The School District said in a statement the area of the school impacted by the law enforcement response “was cleared out of abundance of caution while the Park City Police searched the specific location.” The School District said in the statement a police K-9 was brought to the location. The statement said the search did not result in any suspicious discoveries.
A School District spokesperson said six students were removed from the area as the police conducted the search. They were in the same class and are in the eighth grade and ninth grade, the spokesperson said. The authorities did not order an evacuation of the school.
A bomb squad from the Salt Lake Valley was called to conduct a search. Carpenter said the squad did not find any suspicious items in the search.
The police chief said the department reviewed surveillance tape from the area where the note was discovered. He said there was a “substantial delay in time” between when someone placed the note and when it was found. He said the time that elapsed was longer than 24 hours.
Carpenter said the surveillance tape shows a student with the note as she is at a bookshelf in the library. She put the note on top of the bookshelf, the tape shows, according to the police chief. However, Carpenter said, investigators concluded the student seen on the surveillance tape did not originally leave the note. It is unclear who left the note, he said.
“I think somebody placed it as a hoax,” Carpenter said, adding there was not a threat to the people inside the school.
The School District statement said it encourages students to talk to a school counselor ifs they are concerned about the incident or have information about the case. It also said “all threats to schools are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
The case is the second incident drawing a significant law enforcement response to a School District campus in five months, following the intentional release of pepper spray at Park City High School in April. The case involving pepper spray was designed to prevent an event hosted by a conservative club.
Anybody with information about the case on Thursday may contact the Police Department at 615-5500.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.