Washington police will seek restitution once they locate the person responsible for a written threat at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.
That’s according to Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes, who noted that the threat located in the girls bathroom at the school Friday, Oct. 4, is the fourth of its kind in less than a year investigated by Washington police.
In each of the other three cases — all written threats at Washington High School — police pursued restitution for the cost accrued during the investigation.
Sitzes told The Missourian the threat at Borgia High indicated that someone “wanted to blow up the school” on Monday, Oct. 7. That prompted administrators to cancel classes on campus and hold an e-learning day.
According to Sitzes, St. Louis County police officers walked bomb-sniffing dogs through the school Sunday night, Oct. 6, but nothing was located.
Police also utilized the St. Louis County K-9 team May 6 after a bomb threat at Washington High School.
In that instance, police said they would seek to have the person responsible for the threat assessed for the cost of the investigation, including the use of the K-9 units and any overtime hours by police.
“We always will seek restitution for these types of cases,” Sitzes told The Missourian, “and we hope that the juvenile office will assign it (to the suspect).”
However, in the May 6 incident, the case had already been adjudicated by the time police tallied up the cost of the investigation.
According to state statutes, there is a maximum of $4,000 in restitution that a juvenile, or their parents or guardians, can be forced to pay.
On Tuesday, Sitzes said officers maintained a presence at the school throughout the day.
“We are still looking into the threat,” he said.
Parents and students were initially notified Sunday that school would be in session Monday, but late Sunday night additional information was reported regarding an anonymous “concerning text.”
However, Sitzes said the police investigation never unearthed any text messages.
“We never located a source or anyone who actually received the text,” he said.
According to Sitzes, there were two incidents that occurred this year at WHS, but neither raised much alarm to administrators or police like last year’s incidents.
Earlier in the school year a student made a veiled threat toward others at the school. The details of the threat were not released.
“It wasn’t a bomb threat and the school district found who that was right away,” Sitzes said. “We were not involved.”
In an incident that occurred in the last two weeks, a student at WHS posted on the Snapchat phone app that three people who were not authorized to be in the school were let into a side door.
Sitzes said a student was questioned and quickly admitted that the incident was a hoax.
The May 6 threat was one of three bomb threats last year at WHS. Each of the threats last school year were written by female students and located in bathrooms at WHS.
Although the Borgia High threat suspect has not been identified, the note was located in a girls bathroom, marking one similarity between the incidents.
However, police do not think there is any connection between last year’s and Friday’s threat.
The names of the WHS students were not released because they are minors. The evidence for each case was given to the Franklin County juvenile court.
Following the May 6 threat, a 14-year-old girl confessed to writing the note which warned students not to come to school the following day, said Washington police. The threat was written on a newsletter in a bathroom stall.
There was a second threat in May. On May 23, a written threat stated there would be a bomb and shooting at the school.
The threat was located shortly after 8 a.m. and the school was immediately placed on lockout while police investigated. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and St. Louis Airport Police also responded to the campus.
A short time later, a 15-year-old female student was taken into custody.
Washington police said agencies dispatched to the school that day did a sweep and then assisted with securing the school.
Police said the suspect was quickly identified and confessed to writing the threat.
The two threats in May were minimal in regard to manpower and school district expenses compared to the February threat when there were 12 Washington detectives and patrol officers, deputies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and St. Louis Airport Police K-9 team comprised of three dogs that responded to WHS.
The first threat occurred at WHS Feb. 27 and ultimately led to charges of making a terrorist threat against a 16-year-old Washington girl.
Following the threat, the building was evacuated and students were moved to the football field. Once the school was cleared, a St. Louis Airport Police K-9 team of three bomb-sniffing dogs searched the school.
It prompted the evacuation of about 1,350 students and 100 staff members. The February threat was the only one of the three incidents that the school was evacuated, Sitzes stated.