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False alarm

Alissa Widman Neese • Apr 22, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Law enforcement scoped the city Monday, after a report of a man with explosives sent Sandusky High School into lockdown mode at dismissal time.


As of Monday night, police still hadn’t found the alleged suspect and it isn’t clear there ever was such a man.

Police searched the hallways and perimeter of the high school at about 3 p.m., just minutes after someone called the school office claiming a man with two briefcases was strolling outside Sandusky High School.

District officials immediately called police and went into lockdown mode to keep the suspicious person away from students, superintendent Eugene Sanders said.

After a thorough, but fruitless search, officials safely dismissed all students from the school at about 3:15 p.m.

Shortly after, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting the same man was now at a park on East Oldgate Road, near Remington Avenue, attempting to sell explosives from his briefcases.

Police and deputies responded to the area and by 4:30 p.m. still couldn’t find anyone matching the suspect’s description: a Hispanic man in a dark trench coat, carrying two briefcases containing explosives.    

Sandusky Schools officials and law enforcement are attempting to track the phone numbers of the two callers, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said. “We take this seriously, and if a suspect is caught, we will be punitive,” Sanders said. “We don’t take these threats lightly” Anyone with information should call Sandusky police at 419-627-5863. Sandusky’s incident wasn’t the only threat of violence in the local area Monday.

At about 2:40 p.m. Monday, Oak Harbor’s middle and high schools also entered lockdown mode after each building received a call alleging they had bombs inside them.

Law enforcement officials couldn’t find anything in either building, but officials canceled all after-school activities as a precaution, according to a news release.

Then, at about 5 p.m., Huron police received reports of a man with a suitcase distributing items to children, possibly near Woodlands Intermediate School.

Some individuals suspected the man was involved with the threats earlier at Sandusky High School.

Police soon learned, however, the man was simply distributing drinks to parched neighborhood children near Cleveland Road West and Buckeye Road, Huron police Chief Bob Lippert said. He was holding them in a carrying case. Because of spring break, Huron Schools students did not have classes yesterday.

Precautions to keep students safe

Sandusky Schools followed its emergency response protocol when handling Monday’s threat of violence, superintendent Eugene Sanders said.

The procedure, according to Sanders:


•Assess the threat.


•Contact authorities.


•Conduct a reasonable search with authorities.


•Make an assessment to withhold or dismiss students. 


Sandusky Schools did not utilize its One Call system to alert parents of the suspected threat, but posted an alert on its website after the building had been cleared, Sanders said.


Monday’s events occurred just a day after the 15th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, in which two high school students killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher. The Boston Marathon also happened Monday, the first race since last year’s event, when two pressure cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding more than 250 others.

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