Hoax bomb leads to lockdown

Dublin Secondary School was evacuated and students were sent home early April 5 following the sharing of an image of something resembling a bomb on the school’s campus.

Dublin Police Chief Bobby Mendez reported the department was contacted at 12:02 p.m. by a concerned subject who was sent a photo of what looked like an explosive device.

The caller was reportedly a parent who was sent the photo by her child who is a student at the school.

After receiving the call, Mendez contacted Dublin ISD Superintendent Rodney Schneider, who instructed the high school principal, Chesta Schneider, to initiate an emergency evacuation, taking all the students and staff to the school’s designated “safe spot” and placing the facility on lockdown.

Mendez, meanwhile, contacted local agencies for assistance, including the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety and the Erath County District Attorney’s Office. 

He also contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which dispatched a bomb tech and bomb-sniffing dog.

Mendez was at the school within minutes after notifying the school and reported the building was already evacuated when he arrived.

A search of the premises was executed and the suspected device was found before the ATF officer and K-9 arrived an hour later. Investigation revealed that the image was being circulated via Instagram and text messages and had been seen by several before it was reported. Officers determined suspects and took them into custody.

“It was constructed by a teenager to resemble an explosive device,” Mendez said. “But it was nonfunctional.”

Dublin PD wanted to retain custody of the building until the ATF officer and K-9 examined the device and determined there were no bombs on the premises. The school contacted parents to pick up students and Dublin Public Works employees help direct traffic to keep things as orderly as possible.

Both Mendez and Schneider said they have taken this opportunity to re-evaluate procedures after finding things they can improve upon. Still, both men were grateful by the way people came together to resolve the issue orderly and quickly.

“I want to thank the Dublin Police Department, who acted swiftly and professionally during this event, and the students and parents who performed their evacuation and pick-up procedures almost flawlessly,” Schneider said. “We thank God that this was not a real threat to our students, and we are fortunate to have police, administrators and teachers who are of the highest caliber who take care of our children.”

Mendez expressed similar sentiments.

“This was an extremely strong show of teamwork and agencies coming together,” Mendez said. “As soon as I placed phone calls, everybody was ready and willing to help. We were able to resolve it within about an hour of the initial phone call.”

Mendez said the department has issued charges to the student of terroristic threats to a substantial group of people with threat of bodily harm, a third-degree felony.

Although the device was a fake, he suggested that people are better safe than sorry. 

“If anyone sees a suspicious or dangerous looking device, we ask them to immediately report it to someone,” he said.

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