April Fools’ prank blamed for bomb threat

EAST LIVERPOOL – An April Fools’ Day prank that went awry is being blamed for what officials believed was a bomb threat Monday that brought emergency personnel to East Liverpool High School, also delaying classes for a short period.

In an unusual twist, the prankster was not a student, but an adult, according to city police.

Detectives said a 61-year-old local woman decided Monday morning to call a 38-year-old co-worker who has children in the district, and, posing as Superintendent James Herring, said there was no school due to a bomb threat at the high school.

The woman’s co-worker questioned why the number coming up on her caller ID was not a school number, and the caller said she did not know why that was the case and ended the call.

“The 38-year-old woman got creeped out because the number wasn’t a school number and because (the caller) sounded like a male and she didn’t recognize the voice, so she called the police department,” Detective Don Fickes related.

That set off a chain of events, starting with police contacting the buildings and grounds director and resulting in arriving school buses being sent to Westgate to wait while school personnel and city firefighters searched the building.

About a half hour after police had been called, the prankster called her co-worker again, identifying herself and telling her it had been a practical joke. When advised that the police had been notified, she immediately called the school and advised personnel there was no bomb and it had been a joke.

“She never called in a bomb threat. She just called a friend and said, ‘Did you know there’s no school because of a bomb threat?’ When the police department was called, it notified the school and protocol started,” according to detectives.

Despite the inconvenience and anxiety such a call created, detectives said the school district did a good job of handling the situation, stopping the flow of traffic to the school and getting the kids away from the scene.

Chief John Lane did not find the prank any laughing matter, saying, “In today’s world, anything like that is not good.”

A report has been forwarded to the prosecutor for review, but detectives said criminal intent would have to be found for charges to be filed against the woman who made the call.