Washington Police Department

Authorities say they will pursue charges against anyone responsible in the bomb threat at Washington High School Wednesday.

That includes restitution for the response team that evacuated and searched the school shortly after noon.

Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said approximately 12 Washington detectives and patrol officers responded to the school shortly after noon.

He explained a note was scrawled on a bathroom wall indicating there may be a bomb in the school that prompted the evacuation of about 1,350 students and 100 staff members.

There was no bomb located and no injuries during the search and evacuation.

“Going by school district protocol we moved the kids to a safe area,” said Sitzes, noting that area was checked, secured and safe before the students left the school quickly and efficiently following an evacuation plan.

“We swept the area and had security around the football field,” Sitzes added. “We made sure they were in a safe area.”

After the school was cleared, a St. Louis Airport Police K-9 team of three bomb-sniffing dogs searched the school.

The expenses accrued during the evacuation and search — including manpower and for the use of the K-9 units —  likely will be passed on to whomever is charged, Sitzes said.

“We are tallying up all the resources and the person responsible will be prosecuted fully, and restitution will be sought as part of the punishment,” he stated.

Investigation

According to Sitzes, police are reviewing footage from the school hallway outside the bathroom where the message was found.

“There is a camera right outside the bathroom,” he said. “We know the time (the message) was not there and the time it was.

“That  bathroom is not frequented a lot,” he added, “so the list of suspects is small.”

Sitzes said it took the three dogs more than 1 1/2 hours to search the 265,000-square-foot facility, as well as outside the building.

He added that if only one search animal were available it would have taken much longer because K-9 units can only be active for so long before rest is required for the dog.

Responding to the scene were Franklin County deputies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Sitzes said the agents were at the Washington police station for an unrelated case and responded to the scene to assist if their services were needed.

Police were on the scene until about 5 p.m.

Students were released about 12:45 p.m. Those who had driven to school were allowed to leave, or parents could pick them up at that time. Other students stayed at Washington Middle School until the end of the school day.

Sitzes said after school, students were escorted to classrooms and lockers to retrieve computers, phones, book bags and other items.