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Nine county students subject of probe

March 16, 2001

Nine county students subject of probe



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Nine Washington County students have been the subjects of police investigations after allegedly making threats over the last week.

The incidents include:

- Police allege a 13-year-old male student at Clear Spring Middle School scrawled a bomb threat on wall of a stall in bathroom Thursday. Students at the school were evacuated for two hours while the building was searched. Nothing was found.

He was charged with malicious destruction of property less than $500, threatening a school, explosive device threat, false statement of a destructive device and disturbance of school operation.

- A 10th-grader at North Hagerstown High School on Monday was accused of threatening to kill another student, and spoke of killing, shooting or running over students, Hagerstown City Police Lt. Tom Alexander said.

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Also Monday, there were two incidents at E. Russell Hicks, Alexander said.

- An 11-year-old student spoke of wanting to stab another student.

- A 13-year-old student told others of a desire to shoot another student.

Those three students were each charged with threatening to harm another person, referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice and released to their parents, Alexander said,

Superintendent of Schools Herman Bartlett said all three students were suspended pending meetings with school officials, parents and the students.

-- On Tuesday, a 10-year-old Winter Street Elementary School student took two spent 12-gauge shotguns shells to school, Hagerstown City Police said. Police said the boy picked up the shells at his grandfather's house in West Virginia and put them in his pocket.

The boy told police he forgot the shells were in his pocket. When he took them out of his pocket at school another student noticed and told a teacher, police said.

Police said since the shells were spent the students were not put at risk. No criminal charges were filed.

- A March 7 incident in which a student at Western Heights Middle School told others he was bringing a gun to school to shoot another was under investigation by city police, Alexander said.

That student was suspended from school.

Not all the incidents have been in Hagerstown.

- A 17-year-old Sharpsburg boy allegedly told two Boonsboro Middle School girls Monday he would "set their hair on fire" if they didn't get out of his seat on the bus.

Maryland State Police said that teenager, a student at Boonsboro High, was released to the custody of his parents after the incident was referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

He was suspended from school, Bartlett said.

- In the only case in which a weapon was taken to school, a 14-year-old Clear Spring Middle School student faces possible expulsion after taking a carbon dioxide-powered BB pistol to school last Friday, that school's principal said Monday.

Washington County Sheriff Department officials were continuing their investigation.

School officials have said the student faces possible expulsion.

- Also last Friday, a Clear Spring High School student allegedly made a threatening comment on a school bus.

Mades said Wednesday that student was charged with interfering with school operations.

When asked if that student had been suspended, CSHS vice principal John Howell said Wednesday that "appropriate action was taken."

In addition to the eight known incidents, rumors have been circulating in some schools.

Reacting to talk of a gun and a hit list last Thursday at Boonsboro Middle School, Principal Lynn Miller sent a letter to all parents on Tuesday. In the letter, Miller said he and his staff reacted immediately to the allegations, verified that threats were made and took appropriate actions.

He said no weapon was ever at the school.

The actions taken by authorities follow shootings March 5 at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., and March 7 at Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, Pa.

"We are getting wonderful cooperation from the police - city, county and state," Bartlett said.

Each incident involving the students was being handled on a case-by-case basis, Bartlett said.

Last year, 29 students were suspended from Washington County Public Schools for taking firearms, other guns or weapons to school, according to a report by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Anyone with school safety concerns may call the Board of Education Emergency Information Hotline at 301-766-8700.

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