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SPHS locked down, searched after threat to 'kill all the teachers' found

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Multiple police agencies respond to South Putnam to investigate threat
An unspecified threat to "kill all the teachers" prompted law enforcement officers to issue a lockdown and search South Putnam High School Monday afternoon.

The threat came by way of a note, which according to Putnam County Sheriff Mark Frisbie, was found inside a bag located at or near a home in the South Putnam school district.

"It was a residence that is associated with a student," Frisbie said.

The person who found the bag -- said by the sheriff to be a relative of the student -- called school officials after finding the bag. Frisbie said school officials detained the student at the school and then notified police about the bag.

In a period of about 45 minutes, sheriff's deputies retrieved the bag from the residence and then conducted a search where they found a note and miscellaneous ammunition. Frisbie said there were other items in the bag, but he declined to identify them in order to protect the ongoing investigation.

"We all agreed there was a potential threat," Frisbie said.

Assistant Principal Dan Bain said the note did not specifically mention South Putnam schools nor did it refer to individual teachers.

"The note was directed to faculty in general," Bain told the BannerGraphic after the incident Monday.

Since the bag was found in the South Putnam school district, administrators and police officers felt they had no choice but to react.

"This day and age, you can't take anything for granted," South Putnam Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said.

Students at the combined high school and middle school were kept in their classrooms while officers from the sheriff's department, Cloverdale Police, Indiana State Police and Greencastle Police searched the school for potential threats. The students were released, without incident, to their parents shortly after 3 p.m. while officers kept watch outside the school.

"We figured it was safe to get them on the buses and get them out of here," Frisbie said.

The administration told the students on Monday that the incident was only a drill, in part, so as not to alarm them, however, administrators later admitted that the students sensed something wasn't right when they saw police officers outside the school.

School officials were planning to send notes home with students on Tuesday, telling parents about the actual events of Monday afternoon.

Bain said Tuesday that a student was questioned about the bag but denied involvment. At this time there are no other suspects. There was a police presence at the school Tuesday morning, Bain said, to provide added security for students.

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