Published 12:00 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Juvenile charged for bomb threat

By Rupert Howell

Police announced Thursday that a 14-year-old male student at Batesville Junior High School has been charged for a bomb threat that forced officials to evacuate the buildings on Wednesday.

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“We got a confession,” Batesville Deputy Police Chief Jimmy McCloud said. 

McCloud said that a joint investigation by police and South Panola School District officials identified the suspect. 

“I credit a lot of it to our working relationship with each other,” the Deputy Chief added.

The suspect is being held in a juvenile facility, awaiting action by the Youth Court. If found guilty, the youth and his parents face stiff fines and other penalties, McCloud said.

Canine officers and their dogs completed searches of the Batesville Jr. High Building shortly after 4 p.m., Wednesday and, as had been expected, no traces of explosives were detected, Deputy Police Chief Jimmy McCloud said.

Authorities brought in the trained dogs out of an abundance of caution, McCloud said.

Superintendent Tim Wilder said although he hated the incident occurred, “It was nothing short of amazing how students, teachers, staff, and administrators handled the situation,” while complimenting law enforcement for their action during and after the incident and the following investigation.

Wilder said a serious crime has taken place, “And we are going to treat it as such,” while noting the student also faces the possibility of expulsion.

Buses were delayed about 10 minutes by traffic that was shifted away from the junior high building when it was evacuated shortly after the 1:15 p.m. discovery of a bomb threat scrawled on the wall of a boys’ bathroom. 

South Panola administrators quickly reported the incident on social media stating all BJHS students, faculty and staff were safe and away from the building.

“Law enforcement officials are in the process of ‘sweeping’ the BJHS building/campus. Once officials finish their sweep, classes will resume as normal,” Public Information Director Jeff Eubanks reported.

But it was after regular class time that authorities completed their sweep and school officials made do loading buses and directing traffic around the junior high building.

Law enforcement initially closed Tiger Drive west of the BJHS campus to Keating Road.

Another threat caused South Panola High School to spend a day out of their building earlier this year.

School trustees voted in the January meeting to purchase an explosive sniffing dog to be used by Emergency Management officials to assist in the sweeps after a threat has been made. Payment for that dog was approved during Tuesday night’s meeting this week.

Several local agencies have K-9 units but not all are trained to detect explosives. Neighboring agencies are often called upon to assist with K-9 details, but the dogs are limited as to the amount of time they can be used without rest.