COPPERAS COVE (December 14, 2012)--After an hour-long executive session Friday morning, Copperas Cove School Board members announced that security would be upgraded on Monday at all campuses when students return to class after an unscheduled three-day holiday in the wake of a series of school bomb threats.
Board members did not provide specifics, which somewhat outraged parents who attended the meeting, but offered assurances that security measures and personnel would be upgraded as students returned to class.
School district officials said more details would be released later Friday, but said specifics of the upgrades would not be disclosed.
Meanwhile Friday the district was offering a second day of off-campus tutorials at Grace United Methodist Church.
The tutorials are important for students enrolled in dual-credit classes because of a Friday testing deadline and because they have to have certain assignments and tests completed by then in order to get the college credit for the courses.
Finals for dual-credit courses make be taken at the church.
The district announced Wednesday it was cancelling classes at all of its schools through the end of the week after the threats, in connection with which police have now arrested eight juveniles.
Police confirmed they're also investigating an early-morning break-in Wednesday at the district’s athletic annex, but it’s not clear whether it has any connection to the threats.
Police said the break-in was reported at around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday at the annex at 400 South 25th St.
Electronics, computers, TVs and other items were taken from the building.
The estimated value of the items taken is $6,515, police said.
The move to close schools for the rest of the week came after the district received the ninth threat Tuesday night, the third of the day.
Just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday a threat was reported at Copperas Cove High School and 20 minutes later a second was reported at S. C. Lee Junior High School in connection with which a 14-year-old girl was arrested and charged with terroristic threat.
Then at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday the ninth threat was reported at Copperas Cove Junior High School.
Meanwhile Tuesday afternoon police arrested a 13-year-old boy in connection with a threat on Dec. 7 at S. C. Lee Junior High. He was charged with terroristic threat.
Authorities have now made eight arrests in connection with earlier threats and the reward for information leading to arrests and prosecutions has been increased to $3,000.
District officials say they plan to sue to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars the threats have cost in direct expenses and lost instructional time.
“Each of these incidents costs about $22,000,” Copperas Cove Superintendent told more than 250 parents and residents during a public meeting on the threats Monday night.
"When they prosecute and convict people for this we do intend to sue,” he said.
Officials acknowledged that police were investigating a threat that was found on Facebook that Copperas Cove High School will be “shot up and bombed” on Dec. 21, and said that while no truth has been found to the rumor, the district and police are making plans to heighten security on that day.
Six other juveniles were arrested last Friday and Monday in connection with the threats.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested Monday and charged with terroristic threat in connection with the bomb threat at Copperas Cove Junior High School, which was evacuated Monday morning.
The boy was later released to his parents pending a hearing, police said.
It was the third bomb threat at the school in less than a week.
Parents were notified that students were being dismissed at 10 a.m. and that classes were canceled for the remainder of the day.
And police arrested three boys, ages 13, 14, and 15, Monday in connection with a bomb threat on Dec. 7 at S. C. Lee Junior High School.
The teenagers were all charged with terroristic threat and were taken to the Bell County Juvenile Detention Facility pending a hearing.
Earlier Monday Copperas Cove police announced that two juveniles, one 13 and one 16, were in custody in the Bell County Juvenile Detention Facility in connection with the threats.
The 16-year-old was detained in connection with a threat Dec. 7 at Copperas Cove High School and was charged with terroristic threat.
The 13-year-old was detained in connection with the threat Dec. 7 at S. C. Lee Junior High School and was also charged with terroristic threat.
The first threat was found on Dec. 4, written on a wall in a restroom at Copperas Cove Junior High.
A student found the threat on the restroom wall in the 200 wing of the building following dismissal of classes.
The district didn’t disclose the full content of the message, but said it indicated there would be a bomb in the school on Dec. 5.
Officers and a police K-9 unit searched the school until around 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 4, found no evidence of any threatening device and cleared the building for classes Dec. 5, although security was tightened.
On Dec. 5 Copperas Cove High School students were released at 11:30 a.m. after the discovery of a bomb threat written on a bathroom wall that led to the evacuation of the building.
Officials described the threat as non-specific.
A police K-9 unit was brought in to help search the school.
Copperas Cove Junior High School was evacuated Dec. 6 after a written bomb threat was discovered on the wall of a girl’s restroom.
Students were taken to Bulldawg Stadium while five bomb-sniffing dogs from Fort Hood swept the building
Classes resumed at around 11:30 a.m.
Copperas Cove High School was evacuated again on Dec. 7 because of a bomb threat, but classes later resumed, and a threat was also reported at S.C. Lee Junior High.
No explosives were found in any of the incidents.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the incidents to call Copperas Cove Crime Stoppers at (254) 547-1111.
Tips may also be submitted online.
The reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution the threats was increased last week to $3,000.