Houston & Peach

Peach County schools fall prey to national bomb hoax

Peach County schools were evacuated by public safety agencies Thursday, joining a host of other schools, businesses and media organizations victimized by a nationwide bomb hoax.
Peach County schools were evacuated by public safety agencies Thursday, joining a host of other schools, businesses and media organizations victimized by a nationwide bomb hoax.

Peach County schools fall prey to nationwide bomb hoax.

About 1 p..m., the Peach County Board of Education intercepted emails addressed to all but one of the schools within the county, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said.

The emails said there were bombs hidden in the school buildings and if $20,000 wasn’t paid in bit coins, the schools were going to be blown up.

“It went on to say, don’t try to evacuate the school. If you do, we’re going to blow it up,” Deese said.

The threatening email came into all but Byron Middle School, he said.

“But we evacuated them all and cleared them just to make sure,” he said.

Deese reported the threat to the GBI’s Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center and learned the local threats were part of spam emails circulated nationwide Thursday.

The threats were emailed to schools, businesses and media organizations across the country, prompting evacuations and tying up public safety personnel and resources. But the threats have not been credible, authorities say.

“This is one of those calls where it’s all hands on deck,” Deese said. “All our fire departments, all our public safety folks were called out to help manage these kids outside of the buildings and to clear the buildings.

“It’s a disruption of schools right off the bat, and it’s definitely a strain on your resources.”

Public safety agencies within Peach County received help from Warner Robins and Perry police and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. Those three agencies in Houston County sent K-9s to help clear the buildings, he said.

Students at Byron Middle School were walked to North Peach Park for parents to pick them up, while Bryon Elementary School was cleared sooner, Byron Police Chief Wesley Cannon said. All the elementary students were picked up on school property.

“Everything went off really well,” Cannon said. “Everybody was calm. It was not a mass manic of parents. ... Of course, your mind’s racing a thousand miles an hour as law enforcement, but we have to remain calm, too, to try to keep everybody else calm.

“After that, you go through the process making sure that school is safe. I guess after 45 years of being in law enforcement, you learn not to panic in situations and you just quickly and calmly get the job done.”

Additionally, Bibb County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters responded to several calls of bomb threats from emails just after 2 p.m. Thursday.

Several Bibb County businesses reported receiving an email stating there was a bomb in their building, a sheriff’s news release said.

The public safety agencies checked the buildings and found no explosive devices, the release said.

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