No explosive devices or suspicious items were found Tuesday morning on the Miami Trace Local Schools campus during a thorough search precipitated by a social media threat of violence.
On Monday evening, the decision was made to close the campus as a precautionary measure after a post on Instagram was discovered. An account with the name of “bombingsociety1234” posted the following: “My pan (sic) is too (sic) bomb miami trace schools and burn the place to shreds text me if you want too (sic) help stabbing people with knifes (sic) and shooting with guns….imgoingtobombmiamitrace.com/”
Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis and Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said Tuesday morning that the buildings are safe and secure.
“District officials have worked with local authorities to search each building and have determined that they are safe and secure for the return of staff and students on Wednesday,” said Lewis.
Six K-9 search dogs were utilized from various agencies at around 7 a.m. to conduct the search, which lasted approximately 90 minutes.
“These dogs are trained to do building searches and sniff out explosives or components related to explosives,” said Stanforth. “We are able to use resources from a network of K-9 handlers and they conducted an extensive search of the entire campus. The premises are as secure as they can ever be.”
Classrooms were also searched Monday evening in the elementary, middle and high schools by Jack Anders, the student, safety and attendance officer at Miami Trace, and Monty Coe, a deputy with the sheriff’s office who serves as the school resource officer for Miami Trace.
Stanforth said his office has begun investigating the source of the Instagram post.
“This investigation has many layers, including contacting Instagram, accessing contacts, cellular services and web-based programs,” he said. “It appears that the account may be bogus and was probably created with the sole intent of making the threat. We have two members of our staff that are trained in investigating these types of cyber crimes. So we will be utilizing their talents and the tools that are available to them to investigate and identify the source of threat.”
A skeleton staff was on campus Tuesday in order to keep the district functioning as it should, according to Lewis.
“Our goal today (Tuesday) was just to get the campus back in normal operation following the search,” he said. “The main thing was to make sure that the campus was safe and secure, and we have done that. On Monday evening, I didn’t feel we had enough information at the time to hold class today (Tuesday). It’s never an easy decision in a situation like this, but we have to take all threats seriously. I would rather miss a day of school than make a mistake. Our priority is always the safety of our students and our staff. I want our parents to feel comfortable sending their kids to us.”
Lewis sent out a message to all Miami Trace staff, students and parents Monday evening via the “One Call Now” system to inform them that there was a threat and that classes would be cancelled Tuesday.
All athletic contests scheduled Tuesday between Miami Trace and Washington City Schools were moved from Miami Trace’s campus to Washington C.H. On Oct. 5, the games that were scheduled to be played at Washington C.H. will be played at Miami Trace.
“We would like to extend our appreciation to Washington for their cooperation in making this switch work,” said Lewis.
The agencies that assisted with the campus search were the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, Ross County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Dayton Police Department, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“We are grateful to all of the law enforcement agencies who participated in helping to make sure our campus is safe and secure,” said Lewis. “We look forward to everything getting back to normal on Wednesday.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU