A 16-year-old girl was arrested on a felony charge of communicating a false alarm Thursday afternoon in connection with a bomb threat that caused Southside High School in Fort Smith to be evacuated.
The girl is a student at Southside, according to Sgt. Daniel Grubbs with the Fort Smith Police Department. She’s being held at the Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center on a $2,500 bond.
“This is serious business to us,” said Deputy Superintendent of Fort Smith School District Gordon Floyd. “This is not a prank. This is a crime, and we intend to treat it as a crime in any way we can.”
The threat was reported early Thursday morning (April 11). An automated call went out to parents at 8:53 a.m. alerting them of the evacuation.
Students waited outside the school for nearly an hour while police searched the building and watched surveillance footage to see who might have written threats with marker inside two separate ladies bathrooms.
“Our hallways are monitored, we do have videotape, we have a record of who has entered and left the bathrooms in question,” said Floyd.
Police did not find there was any danger and students returned to class. School officials were able to identify the suspect from the surveillance video.
It’s just one of the many threats of violence reported in River Valley school districts this year.
Cedarville Police investigated a report of a bomb threat on April 2. No threat was found, according to police. Students were kept in the elementary school’s gyms for two hours.
A bomb threat was reported on March 25 at Northridge Middle School in Van Buren. Before Spring Break, Van Buren High School was evacuated on March 13 due to a bomb threat found on a note in one of the bathrooms, authorities said. Police and bomb-sniffing K9 units were called out but did not find a threat.
The following day, a similar threat was made at Alma High School. At least one student, 18-year-old Kevin Ray Newton was arrested in connection with that threat.
During the same week, Greenwood Police took a 10-year-old student into custody after he allegedly threatened to bring a bomb to Westwood Elementary School on March 15.