UPDATE: Bomb dogs provided by the University of Iowa police department did not find anything inside Regina Junior/Senior High School following a bomb threat that led to the Iowa City Catholic school cancelling classes Monday morning.
Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said school staff will be brought back into the building shortly for a question-and-answer answer session with officers, and investigators will likely remain on scene for a few hours. She also said the department is now working to track where the threatening call came from, and will likely ask schools staff to tell students to report any information they might have about the incident to police.
Brotherton said she can’t recall a bomb threat of this nature any time in recent history.
“I can’t recall if we’ve had anything like that happen during the school day like this did, that we’ve had to evacuate school,” Brotherton said. “They’ve had ones outside of school where they were able to track it down before it got to this point but I don’t recall — obviously we haven’t had anything of this magnitude.”
Brotherton said the dogs swept the building and the grounds while they were at the school, and teachers will be told to keep an eye out for anything else suspicious in classrooms, adding it’s possible that someone could have set something up to look fake.
School President and CEO Lee Iben said the last time Regina dealt with an incident was likely in 2008, when a person, who they believed was a student, wrote a threatening message on a bathroom wall. In that incident, school had not yet started, so students didn’t have to be evacuated. Instead, school staff were turning parents and students away at the door.
Parents were notified of the incident, and later of the school cancellation, through the school’s communication system, and Brotherton said she believed the incident went smoothly this morning.
“This is great, this is the way it should go, if we get that call, the number one priority is student safety regardless of the outcome and so it’s best to get them evacuated to a safe zone and then try to figure out if its legitimate,” she said.
Iben told The Gazette this morning that the caller, who called twice at about 8:55 a.m., said he was going to “blow up” the building. As soon as the caller hung up, Iben said officials made the decision to evacuate the building and call police. Students were then taken to a safe zone at a nearby church.
“The parents have all been very cooperative and understanding of the situation,” Iben said.
The Gazette’s Gregg Hennigan contributed to this report.