Isle police investigate bomb threat at Keaau High School


By JOHN BURNETT

and COLIN STEWART

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Police are investigating a bomb threat that reportedly occurred Monday at Keaau High School.

According to a police log, school Vice Principal Ron Jarvis reported the incident on Tuesday morning. The log stated “the unknown suspect(s) wrote ‘bomb 2 marrow 12:30 tick-tock last one was a warning.’”

Police Capt. Samuel Jelsma said Wednesday morning that the bomb threat had nothing to do with the 12th anniversary of 9/11. He said that the threat was found in a boy’s restroom on campus.

“It was reported (on Tuesday),” Jelsma said. “I guess it was found in the bathroom the day before. I guess somebody wrote on the wall, made reference to a possible bomb that would be going off at the school. It was written on the wall on the 9th and was supposed to take place on the 10th.”

Jelsma said that the school wasn’t evacuated, and no suspects have been identified or questioned.

“We have an officer investigating that incident,” he said.

Police have classified the incident as a first-degree terroristic threat, which is a felony.

This is the second known bomb threat reported by Keaau High School officials to police in 2013. In January, a custodian found a penciled note was written on top of a toilet paper dispenser in a student restroom, saying there would be a bomb in a locker on campus on Feb. 15.

At that time, Principal Dean Cevallos sent home a letter with students explaining that the school would institute additional safety and security measures as a result of the threat, including random searches of lockers and a rule that no bags or backpacks were to be left unattended on campus.

“Any unsecured bag found on the campus will be subject to search,” he wrote in the letter. “Please reiterate to your child the importance of keeping their belongings on them at all times or secured in an assigned school locker.”

The school was left open on Feb. 15, and it was left up to parents to decide whether or not to allow their children to attend. No bomb was found on campus.

Students, faculty and staff have largely taken the threats in stride, although they are beginning to lose patience, Cevallos said Wednesday.

“I’ve had a few kids come up and say, ‘I hope you catch this person,’” Cevallos said. “We’re continuing to work with the police, doing an investigation, and we’re hoping that we catch the individual that is doing this. And if we do, I think they’re (the culprits) going to see the punitive indications of what it’s going to do to them personally, and once that happens, I don’t think we’re going to see any more problems like this.

“From my understanding, this is through the Department of Homeland Security; this is a federal offense,” he said. “They can end up spending time in jail or prison. Once our other students see what’s going to happen, I’m thinking that this will stop.”

Cevallos said Hawaii County police have been diligent in their investigation, and commended his staff for being well prepared.

“We’re set and ready if anything does happen. We are on alert, and we’re being mindful of our areas. We’ve received a few phone calls from parents, and we’ve said that we are safe, we’ll do our emergency procedures, and we’ll be able to handle anything that comes up,” he said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com and Colin Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune -herald.com.

 

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