ELYRIA — Teams of police, including three bomb-sniffing dogs, searched Elyria High School for nearly three hours Monday afternoon after threats to blow up a propane tank in a bathroom of the school were called in to the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management Agency.
Classrooms were put on lockdown shortly before noon, and police removed a 15-year-old student from the school who they believe had information regarding the phone call.
The student was released the same day, and no charges have been issued against him.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said.
Costantino described the phone call as “very unusual” and denied rumors that it was a senior prank.
“I don’t think it was a senior prank at all,” Costantino said. “I think it was something more involved with computer processors and social media, but we’ll have more information once the detectives sort this all out.”
More information is expected today. Costantino said the unusual nature of the call “made things more difficult.”
Both police and school officials said emergency procedures were executed to plan.
While police searched the school, students were kept in their classrooms. After the school was swept twice, students were instructed to exit the school with their hands up, and their bags were searched.
Parents, some irate at what they perceived as a lack of communication, and some crying because they were not able to reach their children, crowded the blocks of Middle Avenue across from the high school where the road was closed.
Superintendent Tom Jama used a megaphone to give updates to parents while they waited.
Most had found out through texts from their children or on social medial that the school was on lockdown.
Some agreed with the school’s decision not to send an alert to parents, but some thought the school dropped the ball.
Parents craned their necks above one another watching for their children as teachers in orange safety vests led students out of the buildings.
The students walked across Middle Avenue and down Sixth Street where teachers took attendance and then dismissed children for the day. Students weren’t allowed back into the school to retrieve their belongings and were told not to worry about getting their homework done.
“I’m scared for my kid. He doesn’t really know what’s going on,” Rebecca Matusik said while waiting to see her son emerge. “He’s texting me. He wants to get out.”
Another parent, Dana Reed, said she found out about the lockdown after getting a text reading “oh my gosh, we’re gonna die” from her daughter.
“I don’t like at all anything that’s going on,” Reed said. “They should have sent us a mass call.”
Pamela Evans felt the school district made the right move by not sending an alert.
“In a situation like this, they’re focused on the kids, not focused on inducing panic,” Evans said. “Of course we want our kids, and we want them now, but they’ve got to do what’s best for the kids.”
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