A bomb threat found Thursday morning at Frenchtown Junior High School prompted school officials to evacuate students at that school as well as Frenchtown High School. Roughly 600 students were evacuated in the incident.
School officials say the note was found in the junior high school restroom, saying that a bomb would be set off Thursday.
“My inclination is that it's probably just a kid pulling a prank, but I realize that the school has to take every threat seriously as well, because you just can never be too careful,” said parent Ericka Hughes.
School staff worked with Missoula Sheriff’s Department deputies, as well as a bomb-sniffing dog, to search the school. The incident began at around 10:30 a.m., and authorities deemed the school safe and clear at around 2:30 p.m.
School will resume at its usual time on Friday, March 21.
Folks looking for information from school staff can call the superintendent’s office at (406) 626-2600.
School officials tell NBC Montana they hope the perpetrator will be identified so that they can be held accountable.
Superintendent Randy Cline tells NBC Montana that school administrators will ask that charges be pursued, and administrators will recommend expulsion, though that’s ultimately up to the school board.
Administrators say they have a list of suspects and believe a male junior high student may have written the note, as the note was found in the boys’ bathroom.
Meanwhile, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is conducting its own investigation as well.
Authorities have not ruled out the possibility of this being a “copy cat” incident, because the scare comes on the heels of two other bomb scares at other Montana schools this week. Helena evacuated its elementary schools on Wednesday and Capital High on Monday after two separate bomb threats.
“It's scary for the community. It's scary for kids,” said Missoula Sheriff’s Deputy Paige Pavalone. “It's hard to convey that to a teenager or kid if that's in fact what caused this situation to happen, but we just try to tell parents 'Talk to your kids, let them know the severity.’ We don’t take this stuff lightly and it can get you in a lot of trouble for your future.”
Pavalone says the possible extent of potential charges if the perpetrator is caught will be considered as the situation develops.
“The school's going to launch their own sanctions against whoever is responsible for leaving that note on the bathroom mirror, but that's something we'd have to look at on a case-by-case basis,” said Pavalone.