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Bomb threat cancels school at Westlake High School

By Whitney Evans, | Posted - Aug 19th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Westlake High School was secured and cleared for activities after bomb threat caused officials to cancel classes Tuesday on what would have been the first day of school.

The school will be open from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and extracurricular activities will proceed as scheduled. This is after an early morning caller informed authorities of a bomb at the school and their intention to open fire on anyone who defused the explosives.

Teams are working to identify the person who called police via Skype, reporting explosives and demanding $10 million to avoid detonation. As of Tuesday afternoon, the call was still under investigation, according to Saratoga Springs spokesman Owen Jackson.

Police received a call at 2:55 a.m. that said explosives were at Westlake High School. It started as an automated voice, but the caller became agitated and began talking himself.

He said he had planted 10 devices in the school and had left an offshore account number on a note under a chair in the school's auditorium, according to Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton. If the money was not wired by 7 a.m., the caller said, he would detonate the bomb. And if anyone tried to deactivate the bomb, he told police he would show up at the school with guns and more explosives and open fire, police said.

Saratoga Springs police responded to the school, 99 N. Thunder Blvd. (200 West).

The caller knew enough about the layout of the school that police were concerned, Burton said. Two incidents in the past week added to the unease. First, police found an individual on the school's roof, and a janitor later found that ceiling tiles had been removed in the school.

Police locked down the building and started searching with the help of bomb-sniffing dogs Tuesday morning. Students began showing up for school at 6 a.m. and were turned away.

School officials canceled classes as a safety measure, according to John Patten, Alpine School District assistant superintendent.

By 8:45 a.m., police had searched the building and did not locate any explosives. That was not soon enough for school officials who canceled classes for the first day of school that were supposed to begin at 7:45 a.m.

Students will begin their first day of school Wednesday, Patten said.

Contributing: Shara Park


Whitney Evans

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