School gets bomb threat from adult

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Only days into the new school year a bomb threat has already come into the Picayune Junior High School, this time from an adult.

The 41 year-old man, identified as Joe Dye of 31 Dickerson Rd., was charged with two counts of the false report of a bomb, which is a felony, said Picayune Police Chief Jim Luke.

The first bomb threat came into the Picayune Municipal Separate School District’s junior high school Tuesday morning at about 11:19. Another call from the same suspect came into the same school at about 11:30 a.m., said Chief Investigator Holly Krantz.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We consider this very serious that an adult would … disrupt a school by calling a bomb threat,” Luke said.

Krantz said the suspect was identified by using resources with the phone company and records with the school. Even though Dye attempted to cover his tracks by making his number private before calling in the threat, the phone company was able to track down his number. That number was then run through the students’ emergency contact information on record with the school. A match was made as Dye was listed as one or more student’s emergency point of contact, Krantz said. Dye was contacted by the investigators at 12:57 p.m. the same day.

Dye was arrested and charged at 4:26 p.m.

Krantz said information about the case has been relayed to the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency and FBI. Further charges may be pressed at a later date by those agencies, Luke said.

Dye faces a $10,000 fine and or 10 years in prison, for each state charge relating to this bomb threat, Luke said.

Last year the school district dealt with five or six bomb threats, said Picayune School District Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell. Three of those threats occurred in the same week, though at different schools. Bob Laird, director of Safe and Orderly Schools for the Mississippi Department of Education, said about 600 bomb threats were reported around the state last year. Of those, only two involved an adult.

“This was unusual to have an adult call a bomb threat in. That is very unusual,” Laird said.

Emergency officials responding to bomb threats cost tax payers about $20,000, Laird said.

This year about 12 bomb threats have already been called into Mississippi schools, Laird said.

A motive for Dye’s bomb threat is still being determined. Krantz said Dye stated his motive for the bomb threat involves a relationship problem with his girlfriend and losing his job. Luke and Krantz believe further investigation into the motive is needed.

Due to the numerous bomb threats that occurred last year the Picayune Police Department and the Picayune Fire Department have undergone additional training, some of which has taken place in the past 30 days. Fire Chief Keith Brown said at a recent city council meeting that a number of firefighters participated in training that will better help them search for and locate bombs.

Deputy Police Chief David Ervin said that each officer has been trained on the layout of all of the schools to better respond to emergencies.

Most bomb threats come from students, who usually call them in using cell phones, Luke said.

Harrell said to prevent such instances there is a school board policy that prohibits students from bringing cell phones to school.

If a student is found guilty of making a bomb threat, the student will be expelled for one year, Harrell said.

Luke praised the Picayune Fire Department and his officers and investigators for their fast response and arrest in this bomb threat.