Huron County Sheriff’s Major Greg Englund promises the county special response team takes each school bomb scare very seriously.
“We don’t take any bomb threat for granted,” he said.
Englund has led the SRT for 10 of his 16 years in the highly trained group. The tactical squad includes deputies as well as police officers from New London, Bellevue and Willard. The Norwalk Police Department has its own SRT.
Englund went to a Bellevue school board meeting Wednesday on terrorism. Assistant Superintendent John Nolan meets with area authorities at least once every quarter.
Wednesday’s meeting happened hours after officers in SWAT gear had their weapons drawn when they swarmed Virginia Tech’s Burruss Hall, which houses the president’s office, after a bomb scare.
The threat of suspicious activity turned out to be unfounded, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. The building was reopened, but she said students were rattled.
The bomb threat was two days after student Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people and himself in two university buildings Monday in what is considered the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
Bellevue schools had a bomb scare the second week of school.
“What was interesting was it didn’t happen on the telephone. It was a mail-in bomb scare,” Superintendent Steve Schumm said.
Englund said the culprits usually leave a note indicating an explosion will happen and many times says what time to expect the bomb to be activated. During a majority of the incidents, he said, the student made the threat because he or she wanted to get out of school.
In the fall, officials evacuated the Bellevue school for about two hours, bringing the students to different sites. The locations are not being disclosed for safety reasons.
“That’s why we had the children out for so long as we did because we brought the (trained) dog in from Cuyahoga County,” Schumm said.
“The student was not caught. It was investigated and it’s still being investigated,” he added.
The Bellevue school system has a protocol during bomb threats to immediately contact the Bellevue Police Department and the sheriff’s offices in Erie, Huron, Sandusky and Seneca counties.
A Huron County sheriff’s deputy who responds initially contacts school officials to determine the authenticity of the threat, Englund explained.
“They’ll help with (an) evacuation if that hasn’t already taken place,” he continued. “Once you evacuate the school, there’s no need (for anybody) to go (back) in.”
If local authorities determine the bomb threat is authentic, deputies contact the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office because that agency has its own bomb squad. Englund said the response time can vary, depending on what the Ashland officers are doing, but they could be in Huron County in as quickly as an hour.
“Knowing that, we treat that as a bonafide bomb threat,” he added.
In 2006, there were about four or five bomb threats at two Huron County schools. However, Englund said, the incidents usually “go in spurts.”
A person accused of making a bomb threat could be charged with felony charges of inducing panic or making a false alarm.
“I think automatically would be (a felony) because it’s a school,” Englund said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this article.