News

Hillcrest bomb threat sends students to gym

Oak Harbor’s plague of bomb threats has made its way to another school.

Students at Hillcrest Elementary School had their day interrupted Wednesday when someone discovered a bomb threat in a bathroom.

In the past, all threats have originated at the high school.

When this note was discovered, police and Hillcrest officials searched the gymnasium first and moved the students there while the remainder of the building was searched.

Joe Hunt, school district communications director, said the students needed a warm, dry place to wait while the remainder of the school was searched.

But at least one parent would rather have had the students evacuated from the building.

“The evacuation to the gym was appalling,” said Bethany Lamb, whose son, Kyler, attends afternoon kindergarten at Hillcrest Elementary.

She said she would have rather been notified of the incident when she arrived at the school. That way she could have kept her son away from school while the building was searched.

“I don’t knowingly want to put my son in harm’s way,” Lamb said, adding she would have liked to have seen a more thorough search of the building.

Hunt said officials found the note scrawled on the wall of a bathroom stall. He said officials didn’t know how long the note had been there.

“According to some students, it was there over a week,” Oak Harbor Police Capt. Rick Wallace said. He said the note found Wednesday was less threatening and more vague than other notes discovered at Oak Harbor High School in recent weeks.

Students were able to return to class by 1 p.m after authorities finished searching the building.

Lamb said school officials told her that Navy Security will no longer investigate bomb threats in the schools.

However, Kim Martin, spokesperson for the Naval Air Station, said Security will respond to any call when asked by the Oak Harbor Police Department or Island County Sheriff’s Office and they have never refused to respond when requested.

Wednesday’s incident is the second one that has cleared classrooms at the elementary school.

In mid-February, a bomb threat that caused the evacuation of Oak Harbor High School also referred to Hillcrest Elementary School.

In that case, students were evacuated from the school and grouped in nearby open spaces during the search.

Hunt suggested that a new kid or group of kids is placing such messages to disrupt the school day.

“The idea that it’s expanding is disappointing,” Hunt said.

Oak Harbor High School has been troubled with repeated bomb threats in recent weeks. In each case, the threat was discovered in the bathroom and the school was evacuated while police searched the building.

A 14-year-old girl was removed from class and arrested in late February in connection with making a bomb threat.

Two other students were recently placed on long-term suspension in connection with past bomb threats, said Dwight Lundstrom, principal at Oak Harbor High School.

He wouldn’t comment on any specifics concerning the students.

Wallace said no other arrests have been made in connection with the other bomb threats discovered at the high school.

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