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How Holt High School handled fake bomb threat

Posted: 8:22 AM, Dec 02, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-02 13:22:00Z

A fake bomb threat against Holt High School was written on a bathroom stall for days before a student reported it Monday night. That's when a student posted a picture of the message, "bomb school at 10 a.m. tomorrow."

The Ingham County Sheriff's Office swept the school and found the threat was not credible. More officers patrolled the school throughout Tuesday and the day ended without incident.

"You just have to wonder whether it's credible, especially during this time period," said Dawn Jenks, who chose to keep her daughter at home. "It would probably be best to stay home and not have to be worrying about her at school all day and wondering if something would happen."

Safety is exactly what high school principal Michael Willard says guided the school's response to the threat. As soon as it was reported, he says Sheriff's deputies were on the scene checking the building and interviewing students.

Officers determined the threat was fake and were confident the school was safe. Still Willard says he wanted parents to be able to choose if they felt comfortable sending their kids to school. That's why he kept classes as scheduled, but counted absences as excused.

"It was a pretty normal day. Kids as they interacted of course would come up and ask us questions and for the most part they felt pretty safe," Willard said. "The students saw our presence they saw the police presence. They felt like they were ultimately safe within the school today."

Willard says what's more concerning is the threat had been up for days, but wasn't reported until Monday night.

"A lot of the kids we talked to even said 'I didn't think it was anything, people write stuff in the stalls all the time,'" Willard explained.

Investigators spent the day looking over surveillance footage and tell FOX 47 they've narrowed down a time frame when they think the bomb threat was written. They're now working with the school to interview students who might have information about who was involved.

"We're actively investigating it now and we do have good information that we're following up on," said Lt. Vern Elliott with the Ingham County Sheriff's Office, Delhi Division.

Even though the threat was fake, Elliott says his office isn't taking it any less seriously.

"The laws have changed and there's a lot more serious consequences for this type of action due to the world we live in," Elliott added.

The school's community resource officer is helping with the investigation. Willard says that officer was key to helping the sheriff's office quickly determine the threat was fake.

Willard says the school is now talking to students about reporting threats, and he's asking parents to do the same.

Jenks say she isn't wasting any time, already talking to her daughter about that Tuesday morning.

"When we hear something like that we have to be vigilant and pay attention to these threats even if they turn into nothing," she said.

Jenks say it's about teaching her daughter to be careful, but to not live in fear.