GALION — Galion City Schools officials and local law enforcement are already hot on the heels of the person who allegedly scribbled a threat on a bathroom wall at Galion Middle School on Tuesday.
“We have video cameras and other evidence that already are providing clues,” said Galion City Schools superintendent Jim Grubbs during an afternoon news conference call/news conference. “Our custodial staff does an excellent job getting rid of comments and graffiti, so we’re pretty confident, the ‘threat’ was written this morning.
“We’ve got a list of students already that we will be talking to.”
The schools was evacuated at about 9:45 a.m. After a search of the building by first responders and school staff, an all-clear was given about 11:30 a.m. Students were returned to their own building at 1 p.m.
No one was injured during the approximately 3½-hour ordeal.
“I want to assure all students, parents and staff that all of our school buildings are safe and secure,” Grubbs said.
School activities scheduled tonight, including the undefeated Northmor boys basketball team’s game with Galion, at the high school, will go on. A big crowd is expected. The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m.
A student discovered the threatening writing on a wall in the bathroom between 9:30-9:45 a.m. That student notified school officials who immediately called emergency responders and other district officials.
Grubbs was unwilling to say what the actual threat was, only that it included the word ‘bomb’.”
Within minutes, district officials made the decision to evacuate middle school students and staff. About 430 students walked to the adjacent high school, where they remained until 1 p.m.
“The police department, sheriff’s office and fire department were here immediately,” Grubbs said. “I want to say thank you to all the first responders and staff who responded and acted in a very professional manner.”
Students were fed at the high school as they waited to go back to their own school. Still, as word filtered to them about the bomb scare, they remained calm, Grubbs said.
“The kids behaved very well,” Grubbs said. “They did a great job.”
Grubbs explained that during an evacuation students are not told why they are being evacuated. A bomb threat was never mentioned.
Soon after the decision was made to evacuate, Grubbs recorded a call that went out to students’ parents. It informed parents of the threat and the evacuation. The call stressed that students were safe and asked parents to stay away from the school until the situation returned to normal.
A second call went out to parents about 11:30 a.m., telling them the school had been searched and deemed safe, and that middle students would be returning to their own building at 1 p.m.
Galion Police Chief Brian Saterfield said more than 20 people, including personnel from the sheriff’s office and Galion police and fire departments, along with Galion City Schools staff participated in a search of the building grounds.
Saterfield explained that after discussing the situation with Galion Fire Chief Phil Jackson and others, it was determined that a bomb disposal unit or bomb canine unit from another agency was not needed.
At this time, charges against the person or student responsible for the threat have not been determined.
“That would be up to the county prosecutor,” Saterfield explained. “My first thought would be inducing panic, and we go from there.”
In Ohio, inducing panic can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge, according to the Ohio Revised Code.
“I don’t know what will happen,” Grubbs said. “First we have to find out why this happened, and then we will deal with it.”
He added that staff will emphasize to students the dangers of making threats. He also encouraged parents to talk to their own students about the consequences of someone doing something stupid like making a bomb threat.
“It not only disrupts students and staff, it affects the entire community,” Grubbs said.