West High evacuated due to bomb threat

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 2 2009 10:43 a.m. MST

West High School students stand in the cold away from the school after a bomb threat in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Police have determined that a bomb threat at a Salt Lake high school that kept students from the building for almost two hours was most likely a prank.

A call came into West High School, 241 N. 300 West, around 9:15 a.m. from a male who said an explosive device had been placed on the campus, police said. Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen said the threat "sounded credible," prompting an evacuation of the school minutes later.

"We'd rather be cautious than have anybody hurt," Olsen said. "It disrupts the day, but that's OK. We'll take all the precautions we need to take."

The Salt Lake police bomb squad responded to the school, ultimately focusing on the athletic building, where a teacher had noted a bag by a scale in the boy's locker room, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Snyder. She said a call to the wrestling coach, who had last used the building for a practice, allowed officials to confirm that the bag belonged to him.

Snyder said halfway through the evacuation, teachers were sent back into the school to check their own classrooms again to look for anything suspicious. Students returned to the building just before 11 a.m. and were told to check their bags for anything suspicious.

Investigators have determined the phone call came over an Internet phone connection.

"Any time anyone calls in a prank like this, we will continue to investigate until we find them," Salt Lake police detective Pat Wilkinson said. "They will be prosecuted."

Rich Jaramillo, assistant principal at West, said incidents like this are infrequent. He noted this is the first bomb threat at West during his 13 years at the school.

He said the students were not informed of the reason for the evacuation, but they knew it was serious by the length of time they were kept outside.

"They're making assumptions, but they know it's not a drill," he said.

— Emiley Morgan

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