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Two suspects arrested in Bonney Lake High bomb-threat case
Updated Nov. 22
Two juvenile suspects were arrested the afternoon of Nov. 20 for allegedly making a bomb threat at Bonney Lake High School. Students and staff were evacuated the morning before when the note was discovered.
It was the third bomb threat to hit the school in the last two years, one of which took place less than three months ago.
The Bonney Lake Police Department, assisted by a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department bomb detecting K9, conducted a search of the school and found no evidence of weapons or explosives.
A break in the investigation came when police identified the suspects by video surveillance. Detective work confirmed what the video footage implied. The two suspects were booked into Remann Hall.
One of the suspects has been charged with threat to bomb or injury property, according to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Officer. The second suspect has not yet been charged, at the time of press.
Threats to bomb or injure property is a class B felony referenced in RCW 9.61.160. Class B felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.
A subsection of the law stated, “It shall not be a defense to any prosecution under this section that the threatened bombing or injury was a hoax.”
Sumner School District Superintendent Sara Johnson said it was an empty threat but the law doesn’t take the matter lightly and neither does school administration.
“… in every case we have had a bomb threat, we have identified the student/s involved and have followed the discipline policy. We have no tolerance for bomb threats and regret the instructional time lost and the inconvenience and disruption caused by inappropriate student behavior,” Johnson wrote in an email.
The suspects faced an emergency expulsion upon identification, in accordance with district policy. The district dictates a thorough assessment to be completed at a later date, which will provide a permanent determination for the students involved, according to Johnson.
Michelle Hall, the parent of a sophomore at Bonney Lake High, said the experience was disturbing. Her daughter was attempting to complete extra school work when the day was disrupted.
Hall said she is fortunate to work nearby and was able to pick her daughter up quickly. Other parents did not have that ability.
The incident also forced many parents to end the workday early. There are some families in the community who could be severely impacted by losing even a couple hours of pay, Hall said.
“Kids will be kids but this has gotten out of hand,” Hall said. “I don’t think they realize how much this has affected everyone. It’s taking time and money from the city and the school and the parents who had to leave work to pick up their kids, who should have been in school learning. But I’m just really glad everyone is safe and that the police department responded as quickly as they did.”
According to Todd Green, the police department’s dedicated school resource officer, evacuation of the school is avoided when possible. However, the potential danger outweighed the inconvenience, he said.
“We put the safety of students and staff above everything else in our schools,” Green said. “When someone makes the poor decision to threaten an entire school like this, we take them seriously and investigate fully. The suspects were identified, as they were in each of the prior bomb threat cases, and we expect this behavior to stop.”