[Masthead] Fair ~ 82°F  
High: 86°F ~ Low: 71°F
Thursday, June 30, 2016

Female juvenile arrested for school bomb threats

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dyersburg Primary School received a threatening phone call from an unidentified caller at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The initial phone call was followed by a secondary phone call to Dyersburg Intermediate School stating a similar threat.
Dyersburg Police have one female juvenile in custody in connection with threatening phone calls made to Dyersburg Primary School and Dyersburg Intermediate School on Tuesday morning. The DPD worked swiftly with city school officials to apprehend the alleged offender. The juvenile is charged with two counts of false reporting, a class C felony, which for adults would be punishable by 3-15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The DPD would like to discourage any copycats, reminding the public that all threats will be investigated and taken very seriously especially in light of Friday's events in Newtown, Conn.

"We will continue to take these threats seriously and investigate them and apprehend anyone involved," said DPD Chief Art Heun.

The threatening phone calls came on the heels of the largest elementary school shooting in the nation's history at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The massacre, which took the lives of 28 people including the gunman, has rocked the nation and the world. The death toll included 20 children, who were 6 and 7 at the time of their death, and has caused parents everywhere to question exactly how safe their children are at school.

Dyersburg Police maintain a presence at Dyersburg Primary School after the school was searched for anything suspicious. Nothing was found at the school and both DPS and DIS were taken off lockdown within an hour of the phone call.
Here in Dyersburg, those that wondered how quickly city officials would react in the event of a threatening situation didn't have to wait long for an answer, as they received reassurance on Tuesday that threats would be addressed calmly and immediately.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a phone call was received at DPS where an unidentified caller indicated that the school needed to be evacuated because it was going to explode. The call was treated as a bomb threat by first responders and triggered a number of safety procedures that according to City School Superintendent Neel Durbin are constantly under revision and scrutiny by his staff, police and state and federal authorities.

"School security is constantly being looked at," said Durbin. "It is a constant, ongoing process."

The DPD responded within minutes of the call and began working with staff, teachers and administrators to thoroughly search the school. Five to 10 minutes after the initial call and while the search was still being conducted at DPS, a second phone call came in, this time to DIS, stating a similar threatening message. DIS staff, teachers and administrators were mobilized to search the school, as Durbin coordinated efforts at DIS, while Lyn Taylor, director of school systems, coordinated efforts at DPS.

"We take all threats seriously," said Durbin. "The call triggered a series of school procedures that our staff could not have followed any better."

The DPD maintained a presence at DPS and DIS throughout the day. At approximately 4 p.m. the DPD announced that they had taken a female juvenile suspect into custody in connection with the threatening phone calls.
An official statement was released on the Dyersburg Facebook page at approximately 9 a.m. stating that the schools had received a bomb threat and that police were investigating. The statement reassured the public that children were safe and classes were resuming as normal and asked that parents not call 311 or 911 to avoid tying up resources.

As a security measure, DPS and DIS were placed on lockdown, while the DPD investigated the campuses for anything suspicious. After conducting a thorough search of both campuses and determining that there was no danger, the lockdown was lifted at the two schools and classes resumed.

The State Gazette sent out a text alert at around 10 a.m. confirming the bomb threat and the lockdown at DPS and DIS. The text alert confirmed that all children were safe and that the police were investigating the incident. Despite being reassured of the safety of the students, many parents came to the schools to pick up their children.

"I'm scared for my kids," said an unidentified mother, who spoke to the State Gazette at DPS. "I'm ready to take my kids out of school and home school them. They are supposed to be safe at school."

Parents wait in long lines at Dyersburg Primary School to pick up their children. Many indicated they were scared for their children and may keep them out of school on Wednesday as well.
The lobby at DPS was filled with parents who came to collect their children, many questioning why they were not evacuated from the school if the caller indicated they were going to blow up the school. The State Gazette spoke with Durbin about this question and he assured parents that the school and police followed their procedures thoroughly.

"We choose not to disclose details of our emergency plans for fear that knowledge of our procedures could possibly enable an intruder to be more destructive," said Durbin.

The procedures that the Dyersburg city schools follow are partially based on lessons learned from previous school tragedies, such as the March 24, 1998 incident in Jonesboro, Ark. where two classmates, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, pulled the fire alarm and waited in the tree lines for their fellow students to exit the buildings. Once students gathered in front of the school, Golden and Johnson began shooting, killing five people and wounding 11 others.

For school administrators, part of the challenge is ensuring school safety while meeting fire codes, which oftentimes seem to contradict one another. For example, locking classroom doors during the day may seem like a great idea to some, but students have to be able to leave their classrooms quickly in the event of a fire when seconds may mean lives.

"We will never be perfect, but we will continue to do the best that we can," said Durbin.

Durbin says that everyone in the community can play an important role by being vigilant and that includes parents and students.

"Parents will oftentimes hear things before we do," said Taylor. "It's important that they know they can come to us if something doesn't seem right."

Durbin commented that there have been a number of situations just in his year-and-a-half tenure as superintendent where potential threats have been diffused quickly and calmly because someone alerted school officials. He added that the community needs to have faith and he reminds everyone that statistically speaking schools are safer than any other area in the community.

"We cannot get so caught up in this that we destroy education," said Durbin. "I believe our teachers would be every bit as sacrificial as the teachers were in Connecticut."

In a prepared statement, Durbin addressed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and its effect on the city schools:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the students, the families and the educators involved. What can be said is that all accounts indicate that the school's heroic principal and her staff had safety measures in place and had practiced their emergency procedures but were unable to avoid disaster. We do know that due to preparation and sacrifice, numerous lives were saved and an even greater tragedy was averted.

"The truth is that we will never prevent all tragedies. Our schools have prepared to prevent and to react to crisis. We continue to refine our processes and to learn from others. We continually strive to make improvements."

City school officials, the DPD, Dyersburg Emergency Operations Manager Mark Grant and Dyersburg Mayor John Holden gathered together on Tuesday afternoon for a meeting to discuss the successes of the morning response as well as to discuss opportunities for improvement. Although the details of the meeting will not be disclosed in order to ensure student and teacher safety, the meeting produced good results as city officials continue to work together to provide a safe environment at the city schools.

"The city wants to ensure that our response is immediate and that the appropriate measures are taken to ensure teacher and student safety," said Holden. "I have all the faith and confidence in the city school officials and the emergency plans they have in place. Any suspicious activity will be given the highest priority and we will do whatever we can to ensure the safety of our students."

Information for this article was obtained through www.history.com and www.tn.gov.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on stategazette.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

I agree with this mother and she's certainly not the only one thinking this! Home school and Christ Classical Academy are options to keep our children safe.

"I'm scared for my kids," said an unidentified mother, who spoke to the State Gazette at DPS. "I'm ready to take my kids out of school and home school them. They are supposed to be safe at school."

-- Posted by left early on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 10:21 AM

left early, you think Christ Classical Acad is immune to violence or threats? You think home schooling is safe? What about when that home invasion occurs, would you and your child not be in danger then?

What has happened to common sense? Is it just being bread out of the human race?

-- Posted by ukwildcats on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 10:30 AM

Private schools and home schooling are not immune to violence but those are the only two options that parents have outside of public education.

Home invasion? Common sense? When was the last time a gunman busted in on a home schooler and his mother doing math?

-- Posted by left early on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 10:40 AM

When was the last home invasion in Dyer County? Approximately one hour ago, and it occurs every day in the USA.

When was the last time a bomb exploded in a school? 1927 in Michigan.

No place is immune from attacks of violence. But facts and common sense speaks for itself; schools are the safest place kids can be.

-- Posted by ukwildcats on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 11:15 AM

ukwildcats, I see that you or your spouse obviously work for a school system and I respect what you do. I believe that our city and county educators do all that they can to protect our kids with the federal and state laws that are in place. My thought in the first post was to suggest how to protect our children and I wasn't trying to criticize public education. I just elaborated on a quote from a mother in the story and offered two options.

Home school enrollment increases about 15-20% every year for some reason. Not sure about Christian school enrollment but CCA is growing like crazy.

...last post

-- Posted by left early on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 11:55 AM

They should at least release the age of the caller. I know they can't the name b/c she's a juvenile. Why wasn't the juvenile in school by the way? That kid would never get to use a cell phone or computer for a LONG TIME. The parents need to tan that backside good!

-- Posted by Dude2010 on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 1:22 PM

I have no idea where ukwildcats and his or her spouse may be employed and frankly it doesn't matter. ukwildcats has made some excellent and sensible posts regarding the situation at DPS and how parents, First Responders, DPS Administration all reacted. I was on the scene at DPS yesterday and I witnessed how well those in charge handled what could have been a terrible situation. I also witnessed how some of the parents stood screaming, cussing and threatening those very people who were working hard to protect every child in the school. As soon as the "all clear" was given, I saw parents rushing to check children out of school, and I saw children being very frightened by adult hysteria. I chose to have lunch with my child in the cafeteria, listened to what she told me about her morning, saw her back to her classroom for the remainder of the day and came home to pick up my things so I could return to the school for further mentoring. My grandchild went to school this morning with a smile on her face, eager to see her teacher and classmates... that's a good thing. My composure and that of the First Responders and School Administration made my grandchild feel safe and happy... not afraid to step into an environment she loves.I'm grateful for those who responded so rapidly yesterday and I'm grateful for our school administration. None of us can curl into a fetal position and hide from the world, we must strive to bring better gun laws into being, we must strive to work with our local law enforcement and other first responders and we must strive to so-operate with our school officials. This is something we all need to do for the health, well being and good futures of our children.

-- Posted by DannyeSue on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 1:29 PM

Danger lurks everywhere...movie theaters, resaurants, post offices, banks. We need to remember that the moment we step out of our home, anything can happen, it can even happen in the safe secure place of our home.

-- Posted by citizen_teacher on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 2:34 PM

It's the so called uppity schools where these senseless tragedys take place..... But the public school takes all the heat for being bad...

-- Posted by DMASE on Wed, Dec 19, 2012, at 11:29 PM

"uppity schools"? Actually most of the shootings have occurred at normal public schools.

-- Posted by Dude2010 on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 1:28 AM

Thus far it seems that ukwildcats,citizen_teacher and myself are the only ones who seem to realise that the problem here is NOT with the DPS, or the DPD or the other First Responders... the problem is in our society run wild and lack of gun control both in selling and in ownership. This kind of problem is rampant across the country and has been for more years than most folks like to admit. Fighting amongst ourselves or against what our authorities and school officials work so hard to do... is a tremendous part of the problem. As parents and concerned citisens we need to pull together, work with our school official, our PD and our other first responders and pull together as a community concerned for our children who are our greatest and most important natural resource.

-- Posted by DannyeSue on Thu, Dec 20, 2012, at 6:30 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: