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Threat at SAHS

South Albany High School had asked the public's help in identifying the handwriting and signature in this threat, which was discovered in a restroom Tuesday afternoon. A student confessed Wednesday morning.

Albany police referred a 14-year-old freshman boy to the Linn County Juvenile Department Wednesday after he confessed to writing a bomb threat Tuesday at South Albany High School.

Lt. Casey Dorland of the Albany Police Department said the youth, whom he did not name, was referred to the Linn County Juvenile Department for disorderly conduct.

Principal Brent Belveal said the boy has been suspended pending an expulsion hearing.

The threat was found written inside a boys’ restroom stall just before classes were dismissed Tuesday. The threat indicated a bomb was to go off Wednesday.

“There is no indication that there was ever any attempt by the juvenile to carry out the threat, or that the juvenile was working in concert with anyone else,” Dorland said in a written statement.

Officers with the Albany Police Department searched the school and grounds Tuesday and Wednesday and concluded the threat wasn’t credible, according to Jim Haggart, executive assistant to the superintendent. School resource officers stood by Wednesday, but classes went on as usual.

Final exams for the semester were being given this week. Dorland said it sounded as though the boy hoped to miss the tests.

Finals went forward at South Albany as scheduled.

Belveal said attendance actually was higher than usual for the last day of the school week. No classes are in session today or Friday to allow teachers at all Albany schools to compile grades.

“Parents and kids have been outstanding,” Belveal said in an email to the Democrat-Herald. “My kids are simply amazing and I believe they feel safe at South Albany.”

Belveal sent an email to South Albany parents Tuesday with a photograph of the message, asking for help in identifying the handwriting and the signature.

He said the photo wasn’t the key to finding the suspect, but the signature in particular did prompt some tips that helped lead educators in the right direction.

This is the second bomb threat at South Albany this school year. The previous one was on Oct. 14, also written in a restroom.

In that case, police arrested a sophomore at the school the following week on charges of disorderly conduct *, third-degree criminal mischief and third-degree theft, all misdemeanors. He was referred to the juvenile department and released to his family.

Dorland said many factors come into play in deciding how to charge someone even in similar situations, including the suspect’s past history and his or her level of cooperation.

In this week’s case, Dorland said: “He admitted to the offense and took ownership of it.”

* Editor's note: Previous versions of this story, including the October print version, gave incorrect information about the October misconduct charge. That has now been updated.

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Jennifer Moody is the education reporter for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at 541-812-6113 or jennifer.moody@lee.net.

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