On Friday, the staff and students at New Prague Middle School hope they can finally get back to the business of learning.
On Thursday morning, just a day after a 12-year-old boy was arrested for calling 911 to report a bogus shooting, 21 staff members at the school received an e-mailed bomb threat, prompting an evacuation of the two middle school buildings.
“From the very beginning, my feelings were that this is not real,” said Superintendent Larry Kauzlarich. “And of course it turned out to be a hoax.”
Still, the decision was made to move the 873 students from the middle school and adjacent Central Education Campus to the ice arena about three blocks away. After nothing was found in a sweep of the school, students returned about 45 minutes later and were back in class by 10 a.m., Kauzlarich said.
Still, by 11:30 a.m., 66 students had left school with their parents.
“She’s scared, she’s upset,” Sarah Carmichael said of her 12-year-old daughter, Taylor, a seventh-grader. “It’s just too much for them. They need to have a place they can come and be safe and not be scared.”
Kauzlarich said he’s sure that the bomb threat e-mails were a direct result of the publicity from the previous day’s incident.
On Wednesday, classes were dismissed for the day shortly after 10 a.m. after a 12-year-old boy allegedly made two 911 calls falsely reporting there was a shooter in the school and two people had been wounded. All six of the district’s buildings were put on “code red” lockdown for more than two hours and a dozen law enforcement agencies responded.
The 12-year-old made his first court appearance Thursday morning and will remain in custody at the juvenile detention center in Jordan for now.
The boy has been charged with felony terroristic threats and making emergency calls knowing that no emergency existed, his attorney Marsh Halberg said.
Halberg said he saved his argument about bail for a Monday detention hearing.
In addition, Middle School Principal Tim Dittberner said Monday was a snow day in the district and on Tuesday, classes started two hours later because of bad weather. On Feb. 14, a 15-year-old sophomore at the city’s high school made a bomb threat, leading to evacuated schools, cancelled classes and charges.
Thursday’s e-mails, which arrived about 8:30 a.m., came from different IP addresses, Kauzlarich said, leading him to believe they weren’t sent by a student.
“I don’t know that,” the superintendent said. “I’m just making an educated assumption. It’s possible they didn’t even come from this country.”
It is possible, however, that the e-mails were sent through an Internet Protocol (IP) scrambler program or a third-party “spoofing” site that could make finding the original sender more difficult, said John Carney, chief technical officer of Carney Forensics.
New Prague Police Chief Mark Vosejpka said he has sent the e-mails to the U.S. Marshals Service in Minneapolis, which offered its help Wednesday.
They told him it could take a while. “Either they will figure it out or they will hit a wall someplace and won’t be able to go any further,” Vosejpka said.
“I hope this is the end,” he added. “We’ve got to get over it and keep moving on. People have to stop doing this stuff.”
Kauzlarich said precautions will be put in place Friday to ensure that there isn’t another incident at the schools. He wouldn’t say what those precautions would be.