Bomb threats evacuate schools

For the sixth time in a month, a bomb threat Friday morning triggered the evacuation of Oak Harbor High School, pulling students from classes at a busy time of the year.

It was the second threat in two consecutive days.

“It’s getting ridiculous and I’m sick of it,” said senior Lisa Esperum Friday morning.

Joe Hunt, communications director for the Oak Harbor School District, said the Thursday morning threat was discovered at approximately 8:45 a.m. and the school was evacuated as police searched school buildings. Students returned to class in time for the next class period.

Students were evacuated again Friday morning at approximately 10 a.m.

They picked up their backpacks and walked out to the field adjacent to the high school. Staff members, carrying large umbrellas, helped account for the students. The umbrellas provided an easy way for students to find out where to go.

Some students took the time to catch up on homework.

“It’s kind of annoying,” said sophomore Jennifer Ratliff between answering questions on a math assignment. Fellow classmates brought their calculators with them to keep working on their assignments.

The students returned to class around 11 a.m.

This time, however, the bomb threat included more than the high school.

Students at nearby Hillcrest Elementary were evacuated at approximately 10 a.m because the threat included that school. Students were grouped in several areas away from the school while police searched the building.

“The police were really helpful,” Principal Laura Aesoph said.

Students at Hillcrest Elementary School returned to class approximately 30 minutes later.

Including this week’s bomb threats, students and staff have dealt with six incidents at the high school since mid-January.

“It’s largely the same scenario,” Hunt said.

In each case, a threatening message was found scrawled in a bathroom at the high school. Several of the previous threats were discovered later in the school day and students were dismissed from class.

Students at both Hillcrest Elementary and Oak Harbor High School were sent home with letters to inform parents.

Oak Harbor Police Department Captain Rick Wallace said the incidents are being investigated and officers are following up on leads. He didn’t elaborate on specifics of the investigation.

Making a bomb threat is a felony, Wallace said.

As bomb threats continue to occur, the monetary reward leading to the capture of those responsible continues to grow. The school district chipped in $100 while residents donated the remaining $650.

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