A male North East Middle student is facing charges after a bomb threat forced an evacuation of the school Tuesday, State Police reported.
The student is charged with False Statement - Destructive Device, a felony, and Disruption of School Operations, a misdemeanor, police said. After consultation with the Department of Juvenile Services, the boy was released back into the custody of his parent pending further action.
A pair of bomb squad K-9s and numerous law enforcement and emergency services personnel were called to the scene at the school, 200 East Cecil Avenue, following the threat Tuesday morning.
According to North East Police Chief Darrell Hamilton, about 8:45 a.m., North East Police Department was contacted after a note was found in a boy's bathroom at the school. Hamilton did not release the contents found in the note, stating that is part of an ongoing investigation. Hamilton and PFC Stephen Yates responded to the school.
A short time later, the approximate 770 students and staff were evacuated from the building. They were then bused to North East High School and taken to the auditorium there. Parents of the North East Middle students were notified via an automated phone call. Officials from Cecil County Public Schools released the following statement: "Due to a bomb threat reported at North East Middle School, all students and staff are being relocated to North East High School as advised by law enforcement as a precautionary measure. Parents should report to North East High School where they will be directed to the proper entrance and will follow sign out procedures. Individuals authorized to pick up students should have their photo identification. NEMS students who are not able to be picked up at North East High School will be transported home directly from North East High School at the regular dismissal time."
Chief Hamilton said that the evacuation from NEMS was "very orderly". He also stressed that this ongoing investigation is a "collaborative effort" between North East Police, Maryland State Police, Cecil Sheriff's Office, Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Bomb Squad. Department of Emergency Services personnel and crews from North East Fire Company were also on scene.
School officials gave North East police a piece of bathroom tissue with a note that disclosed the presence of bomb within the school. School employees advised a student brought the note to the office and said it was located in a bathroom on the second floor. The student also said he saw another student coming from the bathroom where the note was located.
School officials said it is policy that students sign out of class when they use the restroom during instruction. The principal requested teachers provide lists of students that used the restroom around the time the note was located.
While in lockdown, an eighth grade student asked his teacher why they were on lockdown and "did someone make a bomb threat"? When the student made that statement, the teacher learned the student had signed out of class around the time the note was found. He was sent to the office pending additional investigation.
Two students were transported to the North East Barrack for interviews. One of the students admitted to authoring the note, police said. Police searched the student's locker and residence and did not find any weapons of evidence of incendiary devices. Investigators collected known writing samples from the student for comparison.
Route 7 between Mauldin Avenue and Mechanics Valley Rd. was closed earlier in the day.
The North East Boys and Girls Club was closed for the day. The unit is located next to North East Middle School.