Fake grenade cancels classes at high school

November 09, 2001|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Four hours after a student found what looked like a hand grenade in a third-floor boys bathroom at Parkville High School yesterday - prompting the evacuation of the school and the cancellation of classes - police blew up the object on the soccer field and found it contained no explosives.

Investigators are trying to determine who brought what Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman, called a "dummy grenade" into the school.

The student noticed the grenade about 8:16 a.m., during the first period, and told a teacher, who pulled the fire alarm to get teachers and all 1,800 students out of the Putty Hill Avenue building. Classes were called off about 10 a.m., but students milled around across the street until nearly noon, some waiting for buses called in for the early dismissal.

"We do think it's something that's potentially dangerous," Warehime said more than an hour before the bomb squad removed the device from the school. A bomb-sniffing dog scoured the rooms for any other problems.

Senior Jessica Distance, 17, said she and her friends were frightened when they heard the alarm because they weren't expecting a fire drill yesterday.

"We were the first ones out of the building," she said, "because teachers usually tell us when we're supposed to have a fire drill."

Some students said school officials took away their cellular phones as they tried to reach their parents during what Jessica called "a real emergency." Cell phones are not allowed in school, said spokesman Charles A. Herndon.

Warehime said all "radio devices" must be turned off within 500 feet of possible explosives as a precautionary measure.

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