Friday, April 10, 2015
Multiple administrators received a threat via email on April 1 which prompted school leaders to evacuate the school. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office said the threat came into University High School's email just before 9:00 a.m. on April 1.The school was evacuated. The sheriff's department was called in, as three police dogs searched the premises. But there was no bomb. Nor was there a bomb, two days later, when yet another threat caused yet another evacuation.
The email read in part: "In two hours of receiving this email the school will come down."
The suspect went on to write that they were "wronged" and that school leaders should not try and evacuate the school.
"You will be responsible for the deaths of all those students," wrote the suspect.
In talking to a colleague from the ATFE, I asked him how many bomb threats he had responded to over his 30-plus year-career, where he had found a real bomb and he said, “Zero.” He has certainly discovered real bombs when called to the homes of bomb makers. He has found real and fake bombs when called by people who saw an odd-looking device on the ground, but again, real bombers bomb, they don’t make bomb threats.I called up Albrecht and asked him if, since then, he had heard of of any examples where a bomb threat was actually followed by a bomb. Not in the United States, he says. Northern Ireland, sure. The Middle East sure. But not here.
This sounds painfully counterintuitive, as if I didn’t care about people. In my threat assessment classes, I suggest that it is an overreaction to order the evacuation of a facility based solely on a phoned-in bomb threat, a note found in the employee breakroom, or an anonymous e-mail from IHateYourGuts@yahoo.com (link sends e-mail), absent of a suspicious device.
Sometimes, sinister howlers strike gold. On December 2, 2005, Javier Rodriquez of Connecticut had a court date related to driving violations. Since the court had suspended his driver's license, he decided not to drive himself. Unfortunately, he could not find anyone to take him. To get out of this predicament, Rodriquez walked to a telephone booth near his home and placed five telephone calls to various locations across the state.Spokane, of course, has had bombs before. Most famously, Kevin Harpham tried to bomb the Martin Luther King Jr. parade route in 2011. In that case, Harpham wasn't considerate enough to call with a warning. An eagle-eyed temp worker spotted the backpack and alerted the authorities, saving Spokane from a Boston-level tragedy.
During each call, Rodriquez claimed that bombs had been placed in courthouses and judicial buildings all over the state. In response, all 45 state court buildings were evacuated and searched, including the one at which Rodriquez was scheduled to appear. After police traced the bomb threat calls to the pay phone, they compared the names of nearby residents to the names of people who were scheduled to appear in court and did not show up. That led them to Rodriquez.
He caused plenty of panic, which was the purpose of his phone calls. Unfortunately for him, the scheme did not keep him out of court.