Northwest NEWS

May 3, 1999

Local News

Threats close school

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   Apparent "prankster(s)," flirting with 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each bomb threat sent through the U.S. Mail, caused the shutdown of Inglemoor High School last Wednesday, April 28, at 11:30 a.m.

   The letter threatening Inglemoor High contained a list of bomb threats on several dates and times during the remaining school year. "The United States Code (USC) Title 18, Sec. 844(e) states that even false threats to cause personal injury or damage to any property carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000," said Jim Bordenet, public information officer for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. That also covers threats made by phone.

   Jim Prozencher of the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) office in Seattle said anyone convicted of possession of bombs or bomb-making materials also faces maximum sentences of 10 years and a $250,000 fine, for each count. "These are very serious criminal violations, way beyond the realm of 'prank,'" said Prozencher. "Any young persons tried and convicted of illegal possession of bomb materials or making bomb threats would be terribly affected for the rest of their lives, impacting background checks and job applications. Who would want to hire anyone who derives pleasure from causing such hideous discomfort in people, especially in the wake of the Colorado incident? This will follow them far beyond their momentary, thoughtless entertainment."

   Northshore School District spokesperson Dr. Pamela Steele said the decision to dismiss school last Wednesday was very difficult. "We have to take this threat seriously, but if we took each threat in the letter seriously, we'd have to close the school down for the rest of the year. I believe if someone were committed to harming people, they probably wouldn't give dates. The police swept the school this morning and found nothing, but we couldn't afford to take the chance of not closing the school."

   A meeting of administrators, Inglemoor staff, students and parents was to be held May 3 at 7 p.m. to discuss the situation.