Law enforcement officials have made an arrest in relation to a bomb threat at Bigfork High School that occurred Monday.
According to information from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, after further investigation, a male juvenile was located and taken into custody. The male’s name is being withheld at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.
“Due to the quick response from Bigfork High School and the Sheriff’s Office, details were obtained which led to the quick identification of persons involved,” Sheriff Brian Heino said. “We would like to thank Bigfork Schools for their cooperation in dealing with this public safety event.”
Students were evacuated from Bigfork High School on Monday morning after the school received a phone call stating a bomb was inside the building. The threat turned out to be unfounded, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the incident.
The call came in at approximately 7:20 a.m. School officials relocated students from the high school to the cafeteria in the middle school and elementary building and called parents to notify them of the incident.
“Sheriff’s officers worked to clear the school to make sure there were no devices,” Heino said. “They didn’t find any other indications of a device in the school and students were back in the building at 9 a.m.”
Bigfork School Superintendent Matt Jensen said the school examined security camera footage recorded over the Thanksgiving break for any signs of unauthorized entry. Jensen said they were able to verify every person recorded in the footage and their activities inside the school, and also observed no entry was made through doors that should not have been accessed.
Six Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputies along with the sheriff responded to investigate the incident, Jensen said. The deputies searched every classroom inside the building and determined the threat was not credible. Once the high school was cleared, classes resumed as normal, he said.
“We treat every threat seriously and we work as efficiently as possible to clear the threat so it has the least impact possible,” Jensen said. “The sheriff’s department was very quick and responsive to what we had going on. We appreciate them getting the manpower to clear the building quickly.”
High school freshman Sydney Rooney, 15, was walking to the high school from her bus when she heard sirens and was intercepted by a teacher who directed Rooney and other students to the middle school instead. Rooney described the environment inside as “chaotic” and said rumors were flying as the students tried to figure out what was going on.
“It was just chaotic. I didn’t know if it was true or not. Sometimes kids like to mess around. It’s [threats] happened before, like at my middle school … but this sounded serious because there were a lot of cops there,” Rooney said. “I was just confused and a little scared.”
She said a teacher eventually stood up on a table and told everyone about the bomb threat at the high school.
“They told us to sit down, stay in one room and calm down and wait until they were finished clearing the school,” she recalled.
In Jensen’s more than 10-year career in administration, he said the school has had “a few different threats of different types. They’ve all been some sort of a lark.”
The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate the threat. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office at 758-5610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We treat it seriously and we take the responsibility of having other people’s kids under our care extremely serious. There’s just no tolerance for this type of behavior against schools,” Jensen said. “We’ll continue to be aggressive with people who make these threats against schools.” »
Reporter Scott Shindledecker also contributed to this story. Editor Mackenzie Reiss can be reached at 758-4433 or email@example.com.