Harnett sheriff: Bomb threat at Coats-Erwin Middle traced to out-of-state boys playing X-Box
Posted October 14, 2021 9:08 a.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2021 12:30 a.m. EDT
Dunn, N.C. — When school leaders arrived Thursday morning at Coats-Erwin Middle School in Dunn, they heard a bomb threat left on an answering machine that set off an hours-long scramble to make sure students were safe.
Sheriff Wayne Coats told WRAL that the call was traced to two boys, one in Tennessee and one in Georgia, communicating through X-Box gaming consoles. Coats explained that the boys, 15 and 13-years-old, were playing video games and somehow came up with the idea to call the threat into the Harnett County school.
The school building was evacuated – students were gathered in a large field outside – just after 9 a.m. A view from Sky 5 showed parents and law enforcement officers lining the roads leading to the school.
A school system spokesman said the bomb threat was left on a school answering machine overnight, and school officials listened to it in the morning. The call was traced to a home in Rockvale, Tennessee, and the threat was determined not to be credible, according to Natalie Tucker Ferrell, spokeswoman for Harnett County Schools.
No charges have been filed against the boys. Harnett County officials are working with authorities in Tennessee to see if the parents may be held financially liable for the cost of the response.
Joseph Webb, of the Harnett County Sheriff's Office, said that K-9s spent the day searching the building to make sure it was safe.
Classes resumed around 10 a.m., but parents could pick up students if they wanted, Tucker Ferrell told WRAL News.
Thursday marked the second day that a threat against a school disrupted classes in central North Carolina. On Wednesday, students at Rolesville High School in Wake Forest spent several hours on a code red lockdown for a threat that proved unsubstantiated.
"These steps are taken as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our students and faculty," Principal Dhedra Lassiter told Rolesville High parents in a message.
No further details about what prompted that lockdown were released.
In Wake County, the state's largest public school system, there is no official means of tracking lockdowns, a spokeswoman told WRAL News. Based on the number of messages principals have emailed to parents, there have been at least nine lockdowns across the system since Sept. 8, most of them code yellow, in which outdoor activities are stopped and outside doors are locked but classes continue.