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CRIME Suspect ID'd in Mohawk school threat



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By VIRGINIA ROSS

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

BESSEMER, Pa. -- The student responsible for writing a threat in a girls restroom at the Mohawk Junior-Senior High School has been identified, Pennsylvania State Police in New Castle said.

On Friday, police said school officials provided them with the individual's name, and that they plan to file charges against the student.

"But at this point, we really aren't sure just what those charges will be," said Sgt. Gary Schuler.

He said the student will be formally notified of the charges through summons by mail. Schuler did not say how the student was identified. He said he could not provide information regarding the age or sex of the student.

State police said they were called to the Bessemer school late in the afternoon on May 27 after school officials found a threat in the girls restroom. Police said when they arrived, the message, which indicated someone would die on June 2, had already been scrubbed clean and police never saw it. The threat had been written on a girls restroom stall.

Schuler said the principal indicated he only called police because the district superintendent had instructed him to.

Parental confusion

Some parents in the district are concerned about the lack of information from school officials.

Kathy Dillan said she hopes school officials will soon clear up confusion surrounding the threat.

Dillan said that like many parents, she is upset that she had to learn about the threat at the Bessemer school from her 14-year-old daughter.

"I really didn't know what was going on," Dillan said, who also has an 18-year-old daughter at the school. "I sent my kids to school and hoped to God nothing happened. But it's all been very confusing."

The Enon Valley woman said that on May 24 her daughter, an eighth-grader, came home from school and told her about a threat at the school, but the girl did not know specifics about the situation.

"At first she said she heard it was a bomb threat," Dillan said Friday. "But then we heard it was something written in a restroom and had to do with the threat of someone being shot. My older daughter didn't seem to know much about it at all.

"I really think the school should let parents know exactly what happened and what went on."

She said she heard through various press reports that school officials said they did not have enough time to notify parents of the threat.

School response

School officials reported that the threat was found in a girls bathroom late in the afternoon on May 27, and that they did not have enough time to send letters home. The threat indicated someone was to be shot on June 2.

School officials, in a press release issued Thursday, said that a nonspecific threat was found in a student restroom at the Mohawk Junior-Senior High School on May 27.

Further, the release reads: "Based on available information, police and school administrators created a plan of action. Faculty was told on Wednesday to be extra vigilant with any unusual activity that took place on Thursday. The Pa. State Police and North Beaver Township Police patrolled the school on Thursday morning."

Another threat

Meanwhile, some parents have reported hearing about a bomb threat made to the school earlier this week.

"My daughter came home from school on Wednesday and said there was a bomb threat at the school and that some kids left early," said Lorraine Book.

"I don't know all of the details, so I really can't judge how the situation was handled. I can say I know the people at the school, and I trust their judgment and that they have the kids' best interest at heart. I trust that they acted the way they felt was most responsible."

Likewise, Barb Burnside, whose daughter is in sixth grade, said she had heard a bomb threat was received at the school on Wednesday.

She said she wasn't overly concerned about the threat, and her daughter also went to school as planned. However, Book and Burnside said they also are confused about the situation. Parents said reported threats at Mohawk have been extremely rare.

Meanwhile, attempts by The Vindicator to reach schools Superintendent Timothy McNamee have been unsuccessful. On Thursday, school staff said McNamee would not be returning any calls. Further, the press release from the school district indicated that the district wasn't planning any further press statements on the episode.




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