SEQUIM — Greywolf Elementary School officials got high marks from law enforcement for their response to a fake bomb threat.
“For evacuating 480 kids and through the process with parents, it was perfect,” said Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
“Even though it was a hoax, it was a nice opportunity to see plans in action.”
Students were told the evacuation to the nearby Clallam County Fire District No. 3’s training grounds was a fire drill, said Ann Renker, Sequim School District assistant superintendent.
“This way the kids remained calm and were able to access their training about evacuating the building without fear,” she said.
Automated caller with hoax
Washington was one of several states in which schools such as Greywolf were threatened in some capacity by an automated caller with a hoax threat, also called swatting.
News outlets across the country, Canada and the United Kingdom reported calls leading to building evacuations and investigations.
The call to Greywolf at 171 Carlsborg Road in Sequim was received at about 12:15 p.m. May 23, although it was not specific about the school, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office reported.
One parent told Principal Donna Hudson that her child “didn’t know I was supposed to be afraid” during the incident, Renker said.
“They thought it was cool to be spending time with the firemen,” she said.
“The staff was so well-prepared and well-trained, they are to be commended,” she said.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said the State Patrol announced the building cleared of any threat by 4:30 p.m. after taking four bomb-sniffing dogs throughout the school.
Access to Carlsborg Road from U.S. Highway 101 was closed during the investigation.
Renker said she’d like to educate staff more on using Incident Command System terminology to cut down on ambiguity.
Safety remained key
Overall, Renker said safety remained key for students and staff through the experience.
“Absolutely, there are things we can do to improve, but bottom line, the children were safe and staff were all safe,” she said.
King said information continues to be gathered by federal agencies about the bomb threats.
“It’s not unique to them,” he said. “It’s something they’ve been following in other jurisdictions. Our bomb threat is identical to what happened across the country.”
King said any more information on the caller might not be available until more investigations are done.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]