Officials seek information about Friday’s bomb threat

Story by Cicely Shannon

The minute hands of the clock at the front of the classroom slowly count down the last 45 minutes left of the Oct. 29 school day before the weekend officially begins. Students in their individual classes watch the seconds tick by. Suddenly, all across the school, an unfamiliar buzzing sound comes on over the intercom. Moments later, the voice of principal Paul Norton replaces the strange noise to tell students and teachers to evacuate the building and go to the track.

“I was in my class trying to do my work and everything just started,” sophomore Cocoa White said. “I was in Ms. Loves class and all I heard was a little beeping or some kind of buzzing noise and they told everybody to evacuate the school and come outside. Everything was getting crazy and nobody knew what was going on.”

Norton said the bomb threat was called into 911.

“We immediately went into our evacuation protocol and evacuated all students and staff to the track,” he said.

While most students heard the original announcement, others, who had classes outside of the main buildings, had to find out from secondhand sources.

“I was in baseball and we were in the multipurpose building lifting weights,” senior Peyton Stover said. “We never even heard the announcement; a woman ran in and told us about it.”

As students made their way to the track, they formed groups with familiar face and the buzz of gossip began to echo through the halls. “Is it just a drill?” or “Do you think it’s a bomb threat?” they asked each other as they begin to form a mass in the middle of the track with their questioning friends.

“I thought it was just a drill,” Stover said, “but after being out there for I while I realized that it wasn’t.”

Students speculated as to the cause of the evacuation.

“I heard that there was a bomb threat,” White said. “I also heard that someone had robbed a bank and they were going to throw a bomb at the school.”

As the rumors spread from group to group, student reactions varied. Despite the confusion and possible danger, many responded calmly.

“I just didn’t listen to [the rumors,]” senior Kara Saulsbury said. “I just wanted it to be over.”

Many other students used the time as an opportunity to socialize, but some were genuinely worried.

“I was shocked and really nervous as to what would happen,” junior Cameron Bailey said. “The teachers and administrators were hectic and shouting ‘This isn’t a drill!’ and basically rushing us out of the building and on the field to ‘protection.’”

When placed in a situation like this, students questioned if the person behind this was a serious threat or just someone pulling a prank, trying to be funny.

“[The person trying to blow up Texas High] would probably be somebody random,” White said, “or someone with hatred who would do anything to get attention.”

Though many students do not believe the threat was made by one of their peers, school and police officials are not negating that possibility. They are reviewing information from every potentially useful source.

“The Texarkana, Texas, Police Department is currently investigating the call,” Norton said. “This act is a felony offense that will come with serious consequences once the person is located. They are researching every lead to ensure the perpetrator is caught. Anyone with information regarding the person that did this is encouraged to give this information to any THS administrator or TISD police officer.”

A $250 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the individual responsible for the threat.

While having shared the same experience, students have conflicting views on how the situation was handled as a whole. Some believe that the evacuation was not carried out properly.

“If there was a real bomb threat, we wouldn’t have a chance,” Stover said. “They didn’t handle it well in my opinion. I was never told where to go or what to do.”

Other students believe that the teachers and administrators handled the evacuation as well as could be expected.

“They were fine,” Saulsbury said. “The school was just trying to do its job.”

However they viewed the bomb threat and the evacuation that followed, most students can agree that it will a memorable event from their high school years.

“It shows that you should never take anything for granted,” Bailey said. “This was definitely a life changer.”