Bomb Scare at Montana School Turns out to Be False Alarm

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
October 15, 2019USshare
Bomb Scare at Montana School Turns out to Be False Alarm
The Lewis and Clark County bomb squad works the scene at Rossiter Elementary school on Oct. 15, 2019, after an improvised explosive device detonated on the school playground, in Helena, Mont. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)

HELENA, Mont.—Authorities evacuated an elementary school in Montana’s capital city on Tuesday, Oct. 15, after officials found what they thought was the remnants of a homemade bomb, but it turned out to be a plastic bottle filled with nuts and bolts left in the schoolyard.

School officials made the discovery shortly before classes began at Rossiter Elementary School. They blocked off the area and called police at about 8:20 a.m., said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.

An investigation found the plastic bottle wrapped in black electrical tape was full of washers, nuts and bolts, along with a non-flammable unidentified liquid, Dutton said. There was no detonator attached to the bottle.

The Lewis and Clark County bomb squad works the scene at Rossiter Elementary school
The Lewis and Clark County bomb squad works the scene at Rossiter Elementary school , after an improvised explosive device detonated on the school playground, in Helena, Mont., on Oct. 15, 2019. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)

A homeless person found the bottle near a construction site and left it in the playground, he said. No threat had been made against the school, and there were no injuries or property damage.

“It wasn’t malicious,” Dutton said. “It did look like a bomb, the school acted appropriately.”

Parents wait for their evacuated students
Parents wait for their evacuated students after an improvised explosive device detonated on the Rossiter Elementary school playground in Helena, Mont., on Oct. 15, 2019. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)

The 490 students walked to a nearby location where they could be picked up by their parents, said Superintendent Tyler Ream. School buses were brought in to keep them warm. Parents were notified via the school’s messenger system.

Police closed the school and searched the grounds for additional devices, and thousands of students across Helena and East Helena were kept inside while authorities swept for bombs outside, authorities said.

Marnie Wedgwood hugs her son after an improvised explosive device detonated
Marnie Wedgwood hugs her son after an improvised explosive device detonated on the Rossiter Elementary school playground in Helena, Mont., on Oct. 15, 2019, (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)

Searches also were conducted at the state Capitol and government buildings, Dutton said.

Helena is a small city of about 30,000 people in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The school is in a neighborhood just north of the city’s center.

By Amy Beth Hanson

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