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Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 04:48 pm

Bomb threat at SHS

PHOTO BY SCOTT FAINGOLD

 

“It was probably some kid who saw what a beautiful day it was gonna be and wanted to be outside,” smiled Jenny Loftus, standing toward the end of a line stretching about a quarter of the way around the grounds of Springfield High School.

Loftus’ daughter attends Springfield High School, where a bomb threat – which the Springfield Police Department termed “viable” – was phoned in Friday morning at approximately 9 a.m. Soon, hundreds of parents were lined up – agitated but orderly – to sign their kids out and take them home. Many of the parents, while clearly concerned, seemed to agree that all the fuss was likely the result of a misguided prank rather than anything more serious. “It was kind of a drag to have to close my store and come down here,” continued Loftus, who owns Milk and Honey Fresh Market in downtown Springfield. “But not too bad. It really is beautiful out.”

Students had been evacuated to SHS’s athletic field on New Street and parents were notified of the situation using District 186’s automated text and phone call system, according to Bree Hankins, coordinator of public relations and marketing for the District. The Springfield Police Department conducted a comprehensive search of the building using bomb-detecting dogs, with students and staff not allowed to return to the building until it was determined to be safe.

As it turned out, after a thorough, room-by-room search, no bomb was found and police sounded the all-clear shortly before noon. Classes resumed, although students were still allowed to leave with parental permission.

“It’s a little frustrating,” said SHS parent Chris Camp. “After years of home-schooling our kids, we finally send the last one off to high school, and at the end of her first week she’s is on her way home due to a bomb threat.”

“Who knows,” joked Jenny Loftus. “Maybe it was some kid with a lot of school pride who wanted everyone to know that SHS is ‘da bomb’ and just got carried away.”

“It’s always better safe than sorry,” said Hankins. “We want to make sure parents know students are safe.”

The Criminal Investigations Division is conducting an ongoing investigation into the incident. Anyone with pertinent information is encouraged to call the Springfield Police Department at 217-788-8311 or anonymously at Crime Stoppers, 217-788-8427.

Scott Faingold can be reached at sfaingold@illinoistimes.com

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