WILMINGTON — Wilmington police are calling the fake bomb threats that they say have targeted schools across the nation “a terrorist act” and have traced some of the phone numbers involved overseas.
The report comes as the Wilmington Police Department continues to investigate recent bomb threats at Denver Place Elementary School and Holmes Elementary School.
“Despite what we all watch on CSI, NCIS, or Blue Bloods, investigating bomb threats via telecommunications is a daunting task,” WPD Chief Duane Weyand said in a media release. “Wilmington Police have partnered with several agencies and have worked endlessly to track the two phone calls.”
Weyand said the volume of schools affected by the threats grows each week.
“As of yesterday (Tuesday), we have issued several preservation letters, search warrants, and subpoenas for records,” he said. “We have tracked our phone calls to other states. Some of our partnering agencies who have been investigating similar bomb threats have tracked their calls back to the Boston area. Some agencies have tracked the calls overseas.
“These threats are nothing short of a terrorist act in our mind, and we have worked diligently to track the calls to the responsible party,” Weyand continued. “We are committed to the security of our schools and will continue to work with others as we bring the case to a resolution.”
Superintendent Ron Sexton said he was aware the bomb threats affected a large region and hoped that the mixture of local and federal agencies would be effective.
“I guess that’s heartening to know that it’s everywhere and it’s very random,” he said. “At the same time, it doesn’t change anything about how we would react.”
Sexton said schools have to keep children safe and knowing a threat is most likely just a threat isn’t good enough.
“We’re making decision based on what’s safest for their kids,” he said.
“I also hope to believe that when you have Homeland Security and FBI and numerous police officers across the state working on this, sooner or later it will be solved as to what kind of idiot might be doing this.”
Sexton said the debriefing school officials held with police officers confirmed that most of the school’s policies were implemented effectively. A few others would be changed, he said. For safety reasons, he mostly declined to speak about those, but did say the school district would make changes to how students can be picked up after an evacuation.
After the Denver Place bomb threat, relatives of parents picked up children from the school’s secured area.
“I think sometimes in a hurry to try and unite, we might have been too accommodating,” he said. “We know better that should never happen. … No child should ever go with anybody other than their parent” or if the parent has given that person permission to pick up their child.
“We’ve got to be a lot more careful,” he said.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.