West Clermont Schools increase security for Thursday after thousands evacuated for threats

Posted at 10:23 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 07:49:24-04

AMELIA, Ohio -- Students are returning to heightened security at Clermont County schools Thursday after a weeklong string of threats reached into a third county Wednesday, forcing thousands of students and staff to evacuate two schools.

The first threat to West Clermont Schools came just after 7 a.m. Wednesday and caused a brief lockdown at Glen Este High School and Middle School. The call went to an automated tip line the Ohio State High Patrol operates. Clermont County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Sellars said it was a blanket threat for all West Clermont schools.

Three hours later, buses flooded the district's Amelia campus because of another threat. An email received at about 10:30 a.m. targeted Amelia High School and indicated "that in an hour, several subjects would be at the school to cause harm to students, and that explosives had been planted throughout the high school campus," Sellars said.

As a precaution, buses took all 2,500 middle and high school students to the First Baptist Church of Glen Este.

"I'm really impressed by how calm everybody is, and it's really organized considering nobody could plan for this exactly," Karen Henriques, parent of an Amelia High student.

Meanwhile, five explosive-detecting K-9s found nothing after searching the schools' campus. Sellars said investigators are working to figure out who's responsible for the threats.

"It is quite a challenge. We're working with several agencies outside of Clermont County to attempt to locate where these calls and e-mails came from," he said.

Other threats since Sept 8 have targeted the Cincinnati Zoo, Mason High School and even the Cincinnati Bell Connector on its second day in service. Police in Cincinnati and Mason are working together on the case, along with the FBI.

As for penalties? "Obviously, they should be stiff and severe," Sellars said. "I mean, just the public inconvenience and alarm this has caused for many students, staff and parents is astronomical."