Five Syracuse High students suspended following bomb hoax

Saturday , December 22, 2012 - 12:10 AM

WASHINGTON TERRACE --- Weber County Sheriff's Office provided extra security at Bonneville High...

Five Syracuse High School students have been suspended and referred to juvenile court for possible charges following a bomb hoax at the school Thursday, say Davis School District officials.

“It all comes down to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time,” said Christopher Williams, district spokesman.

One of the students brought a PlayStation to the school Thursday and claimed it was a bomb. The other four students were also involved in the hoax, he said.

Williams said that type of hoax is the same as walking into a theater and shouting, “Fire!”

“You just don’t do it,” he said.

The students could be charged with a class B misdemeanor disruption of school.

Syracuse Police Chief Brian Wallace said because of the hoax and rumors being spread on social media that “something was going to happen on Friday,” police brought five bomb-sniffing dogs from Hill Air Force Base to the school Friday morning before the school opened.

A robocall was sent out Thursday night informing students they could not bring backpacks or bags inside the school Friday, but had to leave them home or locked inside a car outside of the school.

Extra patrols were also visible at the school all day Friday, including security police from the base.

Wallace said officers were also at the junior high and elementary schools in the area.

“This was the perfect storm,” Williams said. “You have the tragedy in Connecticut, the end-of-the world Mayan calendar and the last day of school before Christmas break, and kids just do dumb things.”

Syracuse Principal Wendy Nelson said administrators sent letters earlier in the week to parents, letting them know the rumors had been investigated.

Nelson said the school’s attendance was at 60 percent Friday, which is lower than normal for the last day before the winter break.

Other schools also saw extra police officers.

At Clearfield High School, police officers were in attendance during the school’s assembly, Williams said.

Officers dropped by and patrolled hallways in other Davis district schools at random times Friday morning.

Ogden schools also had extra security Friday, said Donna Corby, district spokeswoman.

The past week was filled with rumors as students reported to officials about text messages and other messages they read on social media, Corby said.

“I cannot begin to fathom how fast their fingers flew this week, keeping rumors alive,” Corby said.

She said it was difficult at best to “turn the tide of the rumors spread on social media that raised parents’ anxiety.”

But because of relationships students built with faculty, staff and school resource officers during the year, many of them turned to officials when they read something that sounded like a threat to their school, she said.

“We have great kids who are willing to do what they can to be vigilant in keeping their schools safe,” Corby said.

Even with vigilant kids, officials were not taking any chances.

Weber County sheriff’s vehicles were parked at the front entrance of Bonneville High School on Friday.

School administrators and deputies patrolled the hallways and checked on classrooms.

Students were allowed to bring backpacks and bags inside the school.

“We love our Weber sheriff’s officers,” said Principal Ray Long.

Assistant Principal Wendy Long, no relation, was out in the hallway handing out candy to students and said district officials have also been supportive in helping administrators keep the school secure.

Weber School District spokesman Nate Taggart said additional security was on hand at all the district’s schools.

One junior high student was suspended earlier this week “for some concerns,” Taggart said.

He declined to elaborate on what those concerns are or which school the student attends.

Attendance districtwide on Friday was down, but Taggart said “part of that is because it is a half-day and it’s just before Christmas break.”

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