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Bomb threat results in suspension of 11th-grader

March 29, 2001

Bomb threat results in suspension of 11th-grader



By JULIE E. GREENE / julieg@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - A 17-year-old Boonsboro boy has been suspended from school for a prank in which he allegedly claimed there was a bomb on his school bus, according to school officials and police.

The Washington County Technical High School 11th-grader was suspended from school on Tuesday for five days, said Principal Arnold Hammann.

Hammann said the school has a "zero-tolerance policy" for any type of threat. "Given the climate of schools in the country you have to take everything very seriously," he said.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class Johnny Marshall said he investigated the Monday afternoon incident and will turn the case over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

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No charges had been filed as of Wednesday, Marshall said.

Marshall and a witness, Russ Ebersole, said a boy on the back of a school bus held up a sign to the rear window that stated there was a bomb aboard.

The bus was on its way from the technical high school to Boonsboro High School at the time, Marshall said.

Ebersole, who was driving behind the bus, said he took the threat seriously, flashing his lights and honking his horn in an attempt to get the bus driver to pull over.

Ebersole trains dogs to sniff for illegal drugs, bomb odors and guns.

Ebersole followed the bus until it was just north of Boonsboro on Alternate U.S. 40, where he managed to get the bus driver to pull over.

When Ebersole asked the student whether there was a bomb on board, the student refused to say, Ebersole said.

Ebersole said he tried to convince the driver to get the students off the bus until it could be checked for an explosive device, but the driver did not evacuate the bus.

Ebersole said he was concerned bus drivers may not have an emergency plan for bomb threats.

"That is a huge concern for me because there really could have been a device on that bus," Ebersole said.

Washington County school bus drivers are trained to determine when it is appropriate to evacuate a school bus during an emergency, said Chris Carter, transportation director for the Washington County Board of Education.

When the bus is close to its destination, drivers are to take the bus there and report the incident to school and board officials, which she did, Carter said.

Drivers have to make judgment calls on when to evacuate the bus on the spot, Carter said. It was safer to unload the kids at the nearby school than on the side of a highway, he said.

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