Series of letters believed to be a hoax

Published 1:15 am Friday, March 17, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN - The Buchanan Police Department has identified the individual allegedly responsible for a series of threatening letters found in Buchanan High School, Sgt. J.T. Adkerson said.
More than 100 people attended a public meeting Thursday night at Faith United Methodist Church in Buchanan where the announcement was made.
But, Adkerson added the department has not been able to make an arrest yet because the suspect is a juvenile.
Police hope to have the individual in custody sometime Friday, but, believe he or she “has no means of carrying out this threat,” Adkerson said.
At the time of the meeting, the suspect was being “monitored,” Adkerson said.
The suspect has made a recorded confession and a search of the individual's home was conducted by law enforcement as well, Adkerson said.
Police believe the individual was alone in writing the letters and are “convinced” the intent of the letter was not to harm anyone, Adkerson said. Both police and school officials said they believe the series of letters was a hoax.
Adkerson said police conducted over 40 interviews with students, but the name of the suspect was never given through those discussions. Despite assistance from Michigan State Police and Berrien County Sheriff's Dept. investigators, Adkerson said it was the Buchanan Police that solved the case.
Also speaking at the forum was Superintendent of Buchanan Schools David Casey, who said school officials conducted a search of the high school before contacting the police when the first bomb threat was received on Monday, March 6. Casey admitted the structure of the high school makes it a safety concern.
Casey also said a second threat found in a classroom was not brought to the attention of administrators by students. Casey said the document was passed around a class and students were contacting media outlets before school officials.
Casey said school officials acted in accordance to the training they have received for similar situations, but, nonetheless said the response would be critiqued.
Some parents questioned whether there was enough security in the school during the last two weeks, especially around the entrance to the gymnasium.
Casey said teachers were constantly monitoring the hallways. Plus, at any given time there was anywhere from one to five police officers in the high school, Adkerson said.
Jean Templeton said her daughter missed two days of school because of the incident. She said she feels comfortable with how the school and police handled the issue.
Casey also said, the school will pursue a permanent expulsion for the student responsible for the letters.
Samantha Morris, a student who was named on the threatening lists, asked Adkerson if the identity of the suspect would ever be released.
Adkerson said he could not state when, or if, the name of the individual would be released.