Just days after a gunman killed 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school, three West Virginia high schools were placed on lockdown Monday after receiving threats.
Administrators evacuated Princeton Senior High School in Mercer County and Wirt County High School following bomb threats at those facilities. Spring Valley High in Wayne County was temporarily locked down after a student made threats on Facebook.
Princeton Senior High School principal Jack Parker said a secretary manning the school's switchboard received call just before 8 a.m. Monday morning, saying a bomb would go off at Princeton Senior High School and the Mercer County Courthouse.
"It was just a few seconds," he said. "The call was a recording, which was kind of strange. It wasn't a live voice."
Parker said when a bomb threat is called in, school staff usually try to coax additional information from the caller, like where the bomb will explode, when the device will go off and what would cause the bomb to explode. Staff members also try to discern whether the caller is a male or female and pay close attention to background noises.
None of those strategies worked this time, however, because the bomb threat came via a recording.
School administrators evacuated the building, moving students outside to the football field while police checked the building. The county courthouse also was evacuated.
"We thought it wasn't really too much of a threat because nobody's been in the building all weekend," Parker said.
Police swept the entire campus, checking restrooms, classrooms and even outside trash barrels. They didn't find anything. Students were allowed back in the building around 8:30 a.m.
Parker said the school remained cautious throughout the day, making sure doors were securely locked and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. He said police are now working to identify the caller. The number had a Tennessee area code, so it might have come from a cell phone.
"It has to be some sick individuals out there, after what happened in Connecticut, and they do this on Monday," he said. "I'd just like to find the little person that did that."
Parker said he does not think the call was inspired by the shootings Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. He said because the threat addressed both the high school and the courthouse, it probably came from someone with a connection to both places.
"I think it's probably somebody that had a hearing because of attendance or something and thought that would be a good way to get out of it," Parker said. "We'll find out in time."
Princeton Senior High School is about a half-mile away from the courthouse.