Multiple bomb threats in Lee Co. -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Multiple bomb threats in Lee Co.

January 31, 2003

Leesburg-- In a matter of minutes Friday morning, threats were phoned in to three different schools, which were evacuated.

Lee County Middle, Lee County Elementary and the Transitional Learning Center inside the elementary school were evacuated at 10:15, right after the threats were made.

A make-shift assembly line of cafeteria workers prepare emergency meals for hundreds of hungry kids. "The lunchroom prepares lunches in advance and keep supplies in case of an emergency," said Lee Elementary Principal Donna Ford."We turn of the kitchens and come here, and go into emergency mode."

It was emergency mode times three. Never before have there been multiple, simultaneous threats in Lee County schools. "We were discussing what to do if we have more than one school, now we have one," said Leesburg Police Chief Charles Moore.

Ironically, on Wednesday GEMA officials met with school leaders and police to talk about the rash of bomb threats in Lee County. They discussed how to handle multiple threats-- talk that was put into practice today.

"In there we discussed the possibility of this happening, discussed alternatives and how we might handle the situation," said Lee Superintendent Dr. Bill Lewis.

By now the students are practiced in evacuation. Lee County Elementary students cleared the building in under forty five seconds. A record time that proves how orderly these bomb threats are being handled.

K-9 units checked both the Middle and Elementary school buildings, declaring them safe about two hours after the bomb threats were made. Thanks to a new tracing system, police think the man who phoned in this morning's bomb threats will be caught.

Over the past several months, workers have been installing the call tracing system in all Lee County schools. Just a few weeks ago, Lee County Elementary's tracing system was turned on.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Lewis: "It's been going on for the last several months. Ironically we just installed it in the Lee Elementary last few weeks-- it was in place this time."

Police confirm that the caller's voice appears to be identical in all three threats. If caught, he will face felony charges of making terroristic threats and disrupting school.

Leesburg Police say the rash of bomb threats at the schools is becoming a financial burden. Chief Moore says he had to enlist extra help to handle the multiple threats. "Costing us a lot of money. Not only the city but the sheriff's Department, EMS, Fire, call people in off-duty, it’s costing a lot of man hours."

Moore says police might soon go into the schools to talk with students about the repercussions of making a bomb threat, both legal and financial.

posted at 4:00PM by