Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 8, 2012

Authorities detain Newton High School students for bomb scare

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

NEWTON — Three juveniles have been detained in connection with the bomb threat reported Monday to Newton Community High School.

    Two of the individuals were apprehended Monday night and the third was detained Tuesday morning. All three are being held at Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center in Benton and are charged with Disorderly Conduct.

    Jasper County Sheriff Ed Francis said all three juveniles are students at NCHS.

    Newton Mayor Mark Bolander said the three individuals may be surprised at the criminal charges that are being leveled against them.

    “Typically, no one realizes how serious this is until they’re saying ‘what, a felony?” he said. “This is a very serious thing.”

    Jasper County Superintendent Dan Cox said he is referring all witnesses and evidence to Newton Police Department but that he was mainly concerned with the students well being at the time of the incident.

    “You always wonder how evacuating over 600 students is going to go,” he said. “The police, fire department and St. Thomas, who opened their doors to us, all were wonderful. My big concern was seeing if the school was clear and if students could come and get their belongings.”

    Cox said the incident is allowing the school to examine their emergency plans and protocols and seeing what could be done differently in the future to guarantee student safety.

    “It’s always a good opportunity to see what works well and what doesn’t work well,” he said. “It’s not black and white and if we’re going to err somewhere, we’re going to err on the side of student safety.”

    Cox said he also wanted to commend the students for their cooperation during the evacuation.

    “I can’t stress enough that in an incident like this where over 600 students need to get out of the cooperation that we need the students,” he said. “Their cooperation and listening and the help from the teachers were outstanding . If they don’t know what they need to do and aren’t staying calm and following directions, it doesn’t go smoothly. I can’t thank people enough for their cooperation at that moment.”

    Cox said in the future, the district will be cooperating with agents from various first responding agencies on how the school can more effectively deal with emergencies.

    The three juveniles will appear at 11 a.m. Wednesday before the Jasper County Court. Investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.