Meridian Star

April 5, 2013

Bomb threat empties Newton schools

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A note found inside the girl's bathroom at N. H. Pilate Middle School in Newton prompted the evacuation Thursday afternoon of more than 1,000 students of the Newton Municipal School District.

    Newton Police Department Chief Harvey Curry said Thursday afternoon after the all clear was given the note led school authorities to believe a bomb may be in the middle school. He said there is no suspect in the case and that the investigation into who wrote the note and how it got into the girl's bathroom is under way.

    Authorities said at about 1:15 p.m. the middle school, elementary school and high school, along with the central office of the school district, were evacuated. Larry Gressett, public relations officer for the school district explained at the time of the discovery of the note there was some doubt as to which school or schools may be targeted.

    "We evacuated everyone just to be on the safe side," Gressett said. "Everything went fine on each of the campuses and no one was hurt."

    The middle school is located on East Church Street in Newton, across town from the central office, the elementary school and the high school. Gressett said all of the students were transported by buses to Wade Park, which is the designated safe area in the case of evacuations.

    Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight said by the time he reached the middle school all of the children and teachers were out of the building.

    "They did a fantastic job of getting all those people out of that building," Knight said.

    Knight said a bomb dog with the Mississippi Highway Patrol was brought in to go through the school, along with officers. Knight said nothing was found and at about 2:45 p.m. the school was secured.

    Gressett said parents arrived at Wade Park to check on their children and many of the children were checked out of school to go home. Gressett said the remaining students were taken back to their respective schools to ride the bus home as they would normally.

    "I'm proud of the students because they were calm and did everything they were supposed to do," Gressett said. "It was the parents who were getting excited but they were just concerned about their kids so that is understandable."

    Gressett said the schools had just conducted an evacuation drill Tuesday.