After two false alarms this year, Columbus High students and family members are tired of bomb threats.
Dozens of people were outside of Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus Thursday morning, waiting — parents waiting for children to arrive on buses, students waiting for a ride home.
It was another bomb threat, another trip from school to the church, which is a designated emergency evacuation area and another interruption of instructional time.
But, as one parent said, “What can we do? We have to get the kids to safety first.”
Angela Deanes was not alone in her sentiments Thursday.
Other parents and family members at Fairview during the bomb scare agreed that the threat must be taken seriously. But whoever the culprits are also need to stop calling in false alarms, they said.
Deanes got a call from her son, who is a junior, about the threat.
Javarus Sanders also got a call from a student, his cousin, a 12th-grader.
“You never know what will happen,” he said of the bomb threats, as busloads of students pulled up at the front of the church.
The bomb threat was called in at about 9:30 a.m., according to an officer at the scene.
Parents and family members continued to pick up students from Fairview Baptist Church into the afternoon.
The threat was cleared at about 3 p.m. after bomb-sniffing dogs swept the school.
While the threats may be a joke, for parents of Columbus High’s more than 1,200 students, it’s not a laughing matter.
“My concern is, why are they calling in all these threats. This is a school,” said Wanda Smith, whose daughter is in the 10th grade at Columbus High.
The Columbus Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Fire Department and Columbus Air Force Base bomb squad were on the scene. At about 10:55 a.m., bomb-sniffing dogs from the bomb unit had arrived to sweep the area.
It is the second bomb threat at the school this year. The school was evacuated in late January for a false bomb threat.
School officials were more organized in their evacuation this time around, Smith said.
But she would rather have heard the news from school officials before she got a call from her daughter.
The maximum penalty for a false bomb threat is 10 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and a $10,000 fine.
“We’re going to catch them,” Columbus Police Chief Selvain McQueen said of whoever is calling in the bomb threats. “It’s just a matter of time.”