By Jeff Gallatin
Two North Olmsted High School female students – who apparently acted independently – are facing criminal charges and expulsion from school following three bomb threats in three days, officials said.
A 17-year-old female student is alleged to have made the first threat on Nov. 19, by writing a note on a piece of notebook paper, which officials said she gave to high school Principal Jeff Stanton. Officers said later while being questioned by police, she admitted to writing the note as well. She will be facing a charge in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.
In the other two incidents, Shirin Khoury,18, made her first appearance in Rocky River Municipal Court on two separate charges of inducing panic, a second-degree felony, for which as an adult, she could face two to eight years of jail time. Khoury’s charges stem from separate incidents in which notes were found on bathroom stalls Nov. 20 and 21. Her case was continued to Dec. 12 and she was released on her own recognizance.
Police officials said the two apparently acted independently of each other.
“There doesn’t appear to be any connection between the first incident and the other two,” Detective Sgt. Bob Wagner said.
He said officers are still reviewing the cases to determine what motivated the students to commit the acts.
“All of the evacuations went smoothly and in each instance we didn’t find evidence of a bomb when we searched the buildings,” Wagner said.
Students were allowed back in the schools after police could not find anything.
Police Chief Jamie Gallagher released a statement detailing the threats and also praised staff and community members who dealt with the incidents.
“We would like to thank all of those who kept calm and did not contribute to the hysteria that can follow an incident,” Gallagher said in his statement “The City of North Olmsted is a safe environment to raise a family and to send your children to school. The North Olmsted Schools has worked extensively with the North Olmsted Safety Forces and the City Administration in continuing to provide a safe environment for your children. We are professionals who know what we are doing and work daily to keep our students safe.
“One last note to those who believe that they can disrupt the safety or cause others to believe their safety will be compromised; I am making it my personal and professional mission that my agency will not tolerate your efforts. You will be found, arrested and charged.”
Both school and law enforcement officials said the two would face school disciplinary action as well as criminal offenses.
At the Nov. 20 regular school board meeting, School Superintendent Mike Zalar praised staff and students for how they handled the initial incident on Tuesday morning. He also lauded the police department for its cooperation with the school district and efficiency in helping evacuate the high school and then systematically check the building.
He outlined the steps taken and that suspects had been taken into custody.
“I want to assure you that your students are safe at North Olmsted High School today and we are encouraging them to return to a normal student schedule.” Zalar said in his Nov. 21 statement. “Parents who want to pick up their children at the high school can do so after signing them out with a school official.”
No student with gun –
Zalar said rumors of a student being found with a gun stemmed from a picture of a student with a gun that was circulating among some high school students. Both Zalar and Wagner said that student was identified, and picked up by officers. He also will be facing criminal sanctions and school disciplinary action.