Bomb dogs search school

Students were evacuated from Philippi Elementary School Tuesday after the school received a bomb threat – the fifth one targeting a Barbour County school this academic year, police said.

A note containing the threat was discovered inside the school building at approximately 9:30 a.m., Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters told The Inter-Mountain. Walters would not comment on where the note was found or if police had identified any suspects or persons of interest, saying the incident is still under investigation.

Walters said school board personnel evacuated the students, who were transported to Philippi Middle School so law enforcement could search the building.

“We called for K-9 unit assistance from the state police and began our investigation,” Walters said. K-9 units arrived at approximately 1:30 p.m. and the elementary school was declared clear at 3:30 p.m., the police chief said.

Walters said the investigation of the school went smoothly and noted there was no evidence linking the bomb threat to two other bomb scares Tuesday – a threat aimed at the Division of Highways in Doddridge County and an arrest of a student with a hoax bomb at Salem International University in Harrison County.

“We at this time believe there’s no relation,” he said.

Dr. Joseph Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools, said the school executed its evacuation plan “perfectly.”

“Students were evacuated in an orderly manner and served their lunch,” Super said Tuesday afternoon. “Educational instruction was abbreviated, given the circumstances, but they’re on buses and safely on their way home.”

Bomb threats have been all too common in Barbour County this school year. Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins told an Inter-Mountain reporter on scene that Tuesday’s bomb threat was the fifth a Barbour County school has received since the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year.

In January, officials had to evacuate students and staff from all nine schools in Barbour County after a handwritten bomb threat was found at one of the facilities.

In addition to the sheriff’s office and the WVSP, officers with the law enforcement division of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources assisted the Philippi Police Department at the school Tuesday.

Walters is encouraging anyone with any information about the bomb threat to call the police department at 304-457-3700, ext. 224.

“You can leave a message anonymously,” he said.