Threatening Explosion At A School Is Serious Offense, Not Prank - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Threatening Explosion At A School Is Serious Offense, Not Prank

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It's a crime that's been mistakenly considered a hoax or prank.

And it's happening more and more in the Ohio Valley.

Officials say threatening an explosion or violence at a school is no joke.

In one incident last week, students at Wheeling Park High School were forced to go outside in the cold three times in one day.

They say it was because of a scrawled note, barely legible.

"This particular note mentioned three different times," explained Deputy Chief Martin Kimball of Wheeling Police. "So the building was evacuated to be sure, because you never know."

Threats to schools or businesses do more than frighten people and disrupt the flow of class or work.

They divert large numbers of first responders to the scene of the hoax, so they're unable to respond to true emergencies.

People say that's the worst part of a school threat.

"You're putting everyone else in danger, and then you're taking away the emergency vehicles from that area of the county," said Jon Casto of Point Pleasant, W.Va.

"It does take away from the police being able to be where they need to be, and I definitely think it's pretty serious," agrees Nathan Bishop of Warwood.

Deputy Chief Kimball says diverting emergency resources away from true emergencies is a crime.

He says the hoax writer can be charged criminally and pursued civilly, because it's not only dangerous but expensive.

"Tying up a half dozen or more police officers, and probably half a dozen or more fire personnel and a number of fire trucks, you're getting into the thousands of dollars," Kimball noted.

So he has some words of advice for kids who want to get out of a test or stir up some excitement.

"We'll do our absolute best to track you down and find you and hold you responsible," said Kimball. "And if it requires incarcerating you and even if you're a juvenile, some of our juvenile jails are not the best places."

School officials agree, they have a zero tolerance policy for anyone making a threat.

They say it's not a joke, a prank or a hoax.

It's a crime.