By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
Two boys from the Mercer Area School District were charged separately with felony counts of threats of weapons of mass destruction, making terroristic threats, harassment and disorderly conduct after they admitted to making bomb threats in the school on two separate occasions in the last week.
Mercer Police said a 12-year-old boy allegedly dropped a note in the hallway in front of the office while classes were changing on March 13. The note claimed “a bomb is in the school and would be going off at 2:32 p.m.,” according to police.
Following the district’s emergency policies, all the students were evacuated and police and school officials searched the building. Students were dismissed early and all after-school activities canceled, while another search was done. Nothing was found, police said.
Police said they interviewed the 12-year-old boy suspected of dropping the note and said he “did admit to writing the note.”
At about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to the school again after a principal reported finding another bomb threat in the boys restroom. Police said they were shown a bathroom stall with the words “bomb in school” written in marker.
Students were evacuated for a second time while police and school officials searched the building. Nothing was found.
Police said they identified the 15-year-old boy who allegedly wrote the note on the stall and said he “admitted to writing the message so they could get out of school early.”
Mercer School Superintendent Dr. William Gathers said he hopes this is the end of this kind of behavior.
“The principal has spoken on multiple, multiple occasions to specific groups of students where this sort of behavior seemed to be coming from,” he said. “He very clearly emphasized how dangerous it is and what the ramifications are from doing this.”
Still, he said, false bomb threats are an issue that comes around once in a while. “Maybe every five, 7 or 10 years, we go through a rash of this.”
He said the district must exercise “good common sense” in getting all of the students out of the building any time there is a threat.
“Obviously the police become in charge right away but our thoughts are to take every threat seriously and avoid any danger. We’ll get the students out and then evaluate the seriousness of it later,” Gathers said.
“But I can tell you, the students weren’t happy about it. Some of those days it wasn’t too nice outside and they were not happy at all about having to go outside. The students were saying if they found out who did it, they would turn them in.” he said.
He would not comment on whether the boys were suspended from school.