Bomb threat received at Philippi Middle

Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Super promised to throw the book at whomever is found to be the source of the bomb threats that have disrupted classes at two schools this week.

For the second consecutive day, on Wednesday police were summoned to a Philippi school, this time Philippi Middle School, after a handwritten note regarding the threat was found. The middle school students were evacuated around 9:30 a.m. and were allowed to return to the school around 1:30 p.m.

“If there is any way I could hold (the person responsible) accountable financially for the lost man hours from law enforcement and the lost instructional time, I would pursue that to the Nth degree,” Super said. “There’s not a superintendent in this state that does not harbor the same feelings.”

The threat at Philippi Middle School was one of three similar events in the area, the other two occurring in Randolph County schools. The bomb-detecting dogs from the West Virginia State Police were deployed at those schools before being transported to Philippi shortly after noon.

Police responded Tuesday to a threatening note found at Philippi Elementary School, one of three such events in the state. The other threats occurred at Salem International University in Harrison County and at the Department of Highways building in Doddridge County.

Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters said he believes Wednesday’s events were “copycats” of recent incidents, though authorities still had to take all precautionary measures.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Walters said, adding he could not comment any further on the investigation. He did note that the events are believed to be “student-oriented.

“Our primary concern is student safety,” he continued. “But it is also important to keep the kids in the school setting. If we let the students go home, the incidents will continue. Students see that as a way of getting out of class.”

Wednesday’s incident was the latest in a string of bomb threats that has disrupted educational time in the Barbour County schools. In January, school officials were forced to evacuate every county school building because of a perceived threat found at one of the schools.

The Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and the West Virginia State Police are assisting the Philippi Police Department and the Barbour County school system with the investigation.