Scare over suitcase delays school at Northeast High

Empty bag found at door a day after phone threat led to evacuation, officials say

January 07, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

An empty suitcase left at the faculty entrance to Northeast High School yesterday led to a three-hour delay in the opening of school, fire officials said.

It was the second day of scares for the Pasadena school, but fire officials say they don't think the incidents are related.

According to Lt. Bob Rose, a spokesman for Anne Arundel County EMS/Fire/Rescue, school Principal George Kispert discovered the suitcase shortly before 5: 20 a.m. when he arrived early to complete paperwork.

Kispert became suspicious and called 911, Rose said.

Fire officials responded with bomb technicians and a robot from the state fire marshal's office.

The robot opened the suitcase about 7: 45 a.m., and the technicians discovered it was empty.

"I think any time you see anything out of the ordinary, you have to take all necessary precautions," said Michael Walsh, a spokesman for county public schools.

Kispert "is very concerned about the safety of the students and faculty. The principal was just making sure all the bases were covered," Walsh said.

Officials broadcast that the school was closed when the principal reported finding the suitcase. After emergency officials declared the suitcase harmless, buses were rescheduled to pick up the students.

According to fire and school officials, yesterday's incident was the second scare this school year.

Students and staff were evacuated shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday when the school received a telephone threat, Walsh said. They were allowed to return to the building about an hour later, he said.

Rose said investigators did not believe the two incidents were related because the school did not receive a threat yesterday.

"They don't even know if [the suitcase] was intended to appear to be a device," Rose said.

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