No evidence of a bomb was found Monday at Brainerd High School and police now have a suspect, school and law enforcement officials said.
Students and staff were evacuated late in the morning following an anonymous bomb threat made to the high school, said Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth.
Police officers have a juvenile suspect and expect the investigation will lead to charges being filed, said Police Chief John Bolduc. No arrests had been made as of 9 a.m. today, Bolduc said.
Walseth said after the building was evacuated a sweep of the high school was completed by the Brainerd Police Department, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department, the Brainerd-Crow Wing County Bomb Squad and by BHS administration and custodial staff.
Walseth said administration gave its consent for all scheduled activities at the high school to resume at 3 p.m. Monday after authorities searched the high school for evidence of a bomb. He said it was up to Brainerd Athletic Director Todd Selk and the coaches if they wanted to hold activities.
The school received the threatening phone call about 9:09 a.m. Monday, police said. The caller said the school would be a target of a bomb at a specified time.
Walseth and Bolduc had no comment on who answered the call of the anonymous bomb threat or if the person on the phone, who made the threat was male or female. Bolduc had no comment on whether the suspect was a student.
Walseth said he does not want to speculate whether the bomb threat was a prank for students to get out of school.
"It doesn't matter if it was. This is a serious issue," said Walseth. "This is a police matter and it is a federal offense. I hope the police continue to pursue it and the court system will identify accountability."
Walseth said if the threat was from a student the school district has zero tolerance. He said the Brainerd School Board would review all the facts of the investigation if a student is determined to be involved.
The school board could expel the person, said Walseth.
During the school board meeting Monday night, board member Ruth Gmeinder said, "It is too bad they (whoever made the threat) don't realize their ramifications."
Board Chair Bob Nystrom asked Walseth why Mississippi Horizons and Lincoln Elementary School were not evacuated. Walseth said the information received was specific and the bomb threat was in an isolated spot. Walseth said administration and authorities were highly confident that the students at the nearby schools would not be affected by the threat.
Board member Bernie Roberts asked whether students would have to make up the school day.
"We will make it up," said Walseth. "We don't want to encourage this type of behavior. We will be looking at the calendar to see when the day can be made up."
Walseth said administration is looking at the cost of closing the high school for the day. He said he has asked for reports from the district transportation department to see how much money it cost for transporting high school students in the late morning. He said they also have to look at teacher contracts in connection with adding another day.
"This has never occurred here before," he said. "This is not part of the character of this school district."
Walseth said BHS Principal Steve Razidlo showed great leadership. He said this was the first time the district had a chance to use its crisis plan. He said administration will have to make a few minor changes to the plan. Walseth said, for instance, he would have staff members on the buses with cellular phones to provide ongoing communication, in case of a parent contact.
"We had radio contact, but a cell phone would be more efficient," said Walseth.
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