Police have suspect in bomb threat

A suspect has been identified in Tuesday’s bomb threat at Philippi Middle School, law enforcement officials said.

Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters said charges are pending against the suspect, but he would not say whether the person was a student, an employee or someone outside the school system.

Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Super said all students were evacuated.

“We evacuated the school according to our policy and according to the nature of the threat,” Super said. “There were certain indicators in there that led us to do that.”

The Philippi Police Department, the Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and the Philippi detachment of the West Virginia State Police all responded to the school by 10:30 a.m., according to a press release.

Officials said the school was clear at 1:30 p.m., according to the release.

Super would not comment on how the threat was discovered. He said the investigation is continuing.

“My feelings are that when we get to the bottom of the issue and we are able to identify a student that did this, that we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of what our policies would allow us to do,” Super said. “If I could get retribution for all the man hours that were lost, I would do that as well.”

Tuesday’s bomb threat was the third in Barbour County already this school year.

A bomb threat on Sept. 4 resulted in Philip Barbour High School being placed on lockdown. Another threat on Sept. 24 – one which was not officially identified as a bomb threat – prompted the evacuation of students at PBHS.

Walters said Tuesday officials do not believe the three threats are related.

“We do have suspects (in the previous incidents), but not as strong as we do today,” Walters said. “We’re definitely going to file charges today.”

Across the region, Petersburg High School experienced three consecutive threats between Sept. 11-13.

Whether an actual threat is discovered at a school or not, law enforcement and school officials must treat each threat as though it is serious, officials said.

“We’ve got to try to put an end to it,” Super said. “If we could do that, we will do that.”