UPDATED: Four teenagers arrested for bomb threats to county, city schools

Published 4:53 pm Friday, April 28, 2017

Multiple teenagers have been arrested after a rash of bomb threats were called in to Dallas County and Selma City schools this week.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department has charged a 16-year-old male Dallas County High School student with making a terrorist threat, and the Selma Police Department has charged four teens with the same charge.

According to Lt. John Hatfield, an investigator with the sheriff’s department, four threats were made to Dallas County High School, two were made to Southside, one was made to Keith, three were made to Selma High School and two were made to R.B. Hudson, all since Monday.

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“You can call one bomb threat a prank, but this is a problem,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield said suspects were identified after they were able to determine where the calls came from, which took help from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, various cell phone companies and the Fusion Center in Montgomery.

“We have to cut through all this red tape to be able to get that number and to be able to figure out who that number belongs to, so it’s not a quick fix,” he said. “[People] think it is like CSI and you can solve it in a day, but that doesn’t happen.”

The 16-year-old was arrested Friday morning when officers picked him up at Dallas County High School. While some may think the calls are a prank, law enforcement has no choice but to take it seriously.

“You’ve got to treat each threat seriously because the one tie that you don’t, something is going to happen,” Hatfield said.

“I think it important for everybody to understand that even if it was a prank, there are so many people that are affected. You’ve got some 600-700 kids at Dallas County High School, you’ve got 1,500 kids at Selma High and 700, 800 or 900 kids at R.B. Hudson. And then you have to get the emergency response. This is a big deal.”

Hatfield said there could be more charges on the county side of the investigation, as they continue to get more information on the case.

“We’re not done with arresting people yet. We anticipate it being somewhere between three and four arrests made,” Hatfield said.

Both departments stressed the seriousness of the issue because they never know when a threat might be legitimate or not. They also take resources away from other areas of the county and city, like officers that could be patrolling somewhere else or fire departments.

“Schools have to be evacuated, emergency services have to respond to these schools, parents are coming up trying to get their kids out of school. There’s just a whole lot of chaos because of those bomb threats,” said Lt. Tory Neely with the Selma Police Department.

Neely said the teens were set to have a juvenile hearing Friday afternoon.

“Hopefully [these arrests] will; nip this in the bud and all of these bomb threats, and our schools can get back to doing what they do, teaching children,” Neely said.

Neely warned against any student who might think it is funny to call in a bomb threat.

“It’s very serious. It’s a class C felony. If we pursue it enough, we can charge them as an adult because of the nature of the crime,” Neely said. “It causes great alarm, and believe me, the parents that are here are extremely upset.”

The teenager have not been identified because they are minors.

Daniel Evans contributed to this report.