By DAVID BORAKS
CORNELIUS – Cornelius police say they’re treating Tuesday’s bomb scare at W.A. Hough High School as a hoax, and they’re focused on finding – and making an example – of the person who did it. In a press conference outside the school around 5:30pm, Police Chief Bence Hoyle said searches turned up no bomb and nobody was hurt in the incident, which led officials to evacuate the school twice, and to dismiss students early.
“At this point in time, we’re investigating this as a hoax,” Hoyle told reporters. “As you know, it was a very disruptive hoax, and our focus right now is to find who did this.”
Chief Hoyle appealed to citizens and students for help. “What we really are asking now is for the public to step up, get us some information,” Hoyle said. “These kids (Hough students) are talking. Other kids know about it. We really need information.”
“Frankly, we just want to make an example out of who did this,” he said.
In response to a question, Hoyle said police don’t necessarily suspect a student. “No, (but) obviously somebody had access to the school and had access to the packages,” he said.
The incident began around 8:18am Tuesday when someone called 911 with a bomb threat at Hough, a three-year-old school on Bailey Road that serves students from Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville.
Students and staff were evacuated to the football stadium behind the school as police and firefighters responded, along with CMS officials. A search for a suspicious object found nothing, and at 9:40am, classes resumed.
Police stayed on the scene, and at around 12:15pm, a student reported finding a suspicious package in a bathroom. “It was a suspicious looking package, it was in an area that had already been cleared,” Hoyle said.
Cornelius police called for help from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department bomb squad, which examined the package and deemed it to be safe, the chief said.
With that, police affirmed that they were investigating a hoax, not a real threat. Chief Hoyle declined to give any more details.
Cornelius police are leading the investigation with the help of other agencies, he said. That includes the FBI, which police called for assistance in one aspect of the investigation: the use of a mobile phone. “They’re helpful with that,” the chief said.
Although the incident was not a serious crisis, Chief Hoyle praised all involved in the emergency response. “I can’t say enough about how well everybody worked together. It all worked the way it was supposed to work. The school was great, the fire departments were great, Charlotte Mecklenburg police were great,” he said.
“Still,” he added, “you’ve got somebody out there that did this and we need to find out who it is.”
Hoyle also said rumors that someone had been hurt were false. He said an ambulance did go to Hough Tuesday for an unrelated medical incident. But it was unrelated to the bomb scare, he said.
PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO REPLAY
Listen to an audio replay of the Tuesday afternoon press conference outside Hough HIgh with Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle. Click the play button to start. Can’t see the player or hear the audio? CLICK HERE> (MP3, 44 sec)
April 23, 2013, “2nd bomb scare forces evacuation, early dismissal at Hough.”
CORNELIUS POLICE TUESDAY NIGHT STATEMENT
UPDATE – William A. Hough High School Bomb Threat Incident
On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at approximately 8:18am, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police received a 911 call in reference to a bomb threat at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius. The school was evacuated and the Cornelius Police Department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Cornelius-Lemley Fire Rescue and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Officials searched the building.
There was no device found during the search. Students, faculty and staff were returned to the school at 9:40am.
Around 12:15 PM, an officer at the school was notified that a suspicious package was in a bathroom. Officers responded and found a package in a lavatory in an area that had been previously searched and cleared. The package was placed in an obvious manner and made to look suspicious. Another evacuation was ordered and bomb technicians were called. The package was found to be safe.
The Cornelius Police Department will continue this investigation to determine who perpetrated this hoax. This type of crime is very disruptive to the schools and very costly to investigate. Cornelius Police requests assistance from the public to help identify the suspects in this case. If you or your students have or hear of any information that could, in any way, be helpful in identifying the suspect(s) in this hoax, please contact us immediately.
Anyone with information is asked to call Cornelius Police Detectives at 704-892-7773. You can remain anonymous.