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No unusual incidents at Harford schools targeted by bomb threat

Police presence was in evidence at five Harford County high schools Wednesday morning; however, no unusual incidents were reported in the wake of an earlier threat that a bomb had been planted in one of the schools.

According to one principal, the threat said a bomb would go off at 10:30 — which did not happen.

The schools the threats were made against were C. Milton Wright High School and Patterson Mill High School, both in Bel Air, Aberdeen High School and Edgewood High School and the private John Carroll School in Bel Air, according to the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

Police and school officials had said Tuesday their main emphasis would be on C. Milton Wright, where a threat was discovered on Oct. 18 that appears to be connected to the threat about Wednesday morning.

Harford school officials released attendance figures late Wednesday afternoon for the four public high schools targeted, and all were below what the system considers normal, with C. Milton Wright being the lowest. Almost a quarter of the students at that school were absent.

John Carroll was the only school where students were actually evacuated from the building, as had been planned by the school's principal the day before. Evacuation drills were not conducted at the four public schools.

Bel Air Fire Chief and Mayor Eddie Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon that it was a "very quiet day" for the fire company.

He did not get any calls connected to the bomb threats, but the company had a full crew on standby all day just in case, Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon.

The sheriff's office was also ready to go even though nothing materialized.

"K-9 were on standby, extra deputies from patrol were in the area of C. Milton if needed," Capt. Keith Warner said. "School resource officers and school security were at the school."

Harford Board of Education President Rick Grambo declined to comment on the incident and referred questions to the school system.

"We are looking at the situation and stayed in contact with the superintendent," he said late Wednesday afternoon.

C. Milton Wright

At C. Milton Wright, the school's parking lot appeared to be full at mid-morning Wednesday, and some students were still being dropped off.

Around 10 a.m., several sheriff's deputies were observed standing outside the school entrance, and several police cars were still parked nearby.

The marching band was practicing on the soccer field along Route 543. The practice ended just after 10:30 and band members returned to the building.

By 10:40 a.m., most of the police activity appeared to be winding down.

John Carroll

John Carroll's principal sent a lengthy note to parents Tuesday telling them they could keep their children home and the absence would be excused. The note also had said the threat had mentioned the bomb would go off by 10:30 a.m.

As a precaution, the school held a practice evacuation drill starting at 10:15 a.m., which took place as planned.

Shortly after 10:00, a teacher was overheard telling students to go to the softball field. A police car was at the school entrance on Route 22. Other police were evident around the perimeter of the school.

The principal's note had said the school would remain evacuated until 10:45 a.m., and that was exactly when the students started heading back into the school.

Aberdeen

At Aberdeen High School about 10 a.m., a police car was evident near one of the building's entrances, but there was no outside activity, and vehicle entrances to the school were open.

A few students were observed leaving the school and getting into their cars around 10:45, but otherwise, nothing unusual was observed during the previous hour.

Neither Harford school officials nor police reported any unusual incidents at either Edgewood or Patterson Mill.

Attendance

According to the school system, attendance at C. Milton Wright was 77 percent Wednesday.

Attendance at Patterson Mill Middle and Patterson Mill High, which share a building, was 84 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Attendance at Aberdeen High was 86 percent and attendance at Edgewood High was 84 percent.

"The remainder of our schools were in the normal range for attendance," the school system's communications director, Teri Kranefeld, wrote in an-e-mail. "Our schools usually run at a 95 percent or higher attendance rate."

With regard to how the threat was handled, Kranefeld wrote: "All of our schools have specific Critical Incident Plans that are reviewed and updated annually. In addition, evacuation drills, table top drills and active shooter drills are practiced regularly. We work very closely with local law enforcement on any issues that affect the safety and security of our schools."

"As always," she added, "our schools will remain vigilant and err on the side of caution."

Check back with http://www.exploreharford.com for updates.

Reports from Marisat Gallo, Bryna Zumer and Hafiz Rashid for The Aegis.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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