BENTON, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Caddo Sheriff’s Office says federal authorities have been notified of the series of bomb threats that prompted evacuations and searches of at least four local high schools in Northwest Louisiana Thursday morning.
Threats were made at around the same time Thursday morning at Benton High School in Bossier Parish, North DeSoto High School in DeSoto Parish, as well as Green Oaks Performing Arts Academy and Northwood High School in Caddo Parish. Sabine Parish School District confirmed early Thursday afternoon that they have received similar alerts.
Sheriff Steve Prator says a caller to the parish 911 center indicated seeing a suspicious package inside Northwood High School. CPSO deputies and Shreveport Fire Department’s Bomb Squad quickly responded and found no such package. Another similar call came in For Green Oaks but was also determined to be a hoax.
Sheriff Steve Prator says CPSO detectives traced the calls to an IP address in Ethiopia.
A similar scene played out at Benton High School around the same time Thursday morning. The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says a suspicious package was found on the campus after school officials received the bomb threat just before 10 a.m.
Students and faculty were evacuated to the baseball field as a precaution. The sheriff’s office says School Resource Officers did a quick check of the package before Louisiana State Police EOD and Bossier City Police Department EOD arrived on the scene.
After investigating the suspicious package, BPSO says bomb techs declared the scene safe at 10:45 a.m.
“Detectives investigating the call determined the same number made a similar threat in North Carolina one week ago. They traced the number to an IP address to a location outside of the United States,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement shortly before a SWAT Team and K-9 completed a sweep of the school to ensure it was safe before the students and faculty were allowed to return.
Bossier Parish Schools Public Relations Liaison Sonja Bailes said authorities believe the threats were sent via robocall, and that multiple school districts throughout the area also received them.
Parents were asked to not come to the campus to try to check out their students because law enforcement had all entrances to the school blocked, leaving worried parents waiting for word. Benton High School has a policy requiring students to hand over their cell phones at the start of the school day.
In spite of the belief that the threats are a hoax, schools say they’re taking all necessary precautions.
“As a precaution, SPSB SROs and SPSD Deputies have responded to the suspicious calls/alerts and at this time the messages appear to be a HOAX,” the Sabine Parish School Board said in a message shared Thursday afternoon. “These messages are currently under police investigation.”
“DeSoto, Caddo, and Bossier Parish Schools have all received similar alerts, and Deputies have responded to all schools to ensure safety, as a precaution,” the De Soto Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement shared with the public at 10:38 a.m. ” We do not believe there is any merit to these alerts, and they appear to be a hoax at this time. These messages are currently under investigation. We want to alert the public as to avoid confusion and/or rumor.”