Police seek help in Ballard bomb threat investigation

Published 12:32 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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NILES — The Niles Police Department is actively investigating last week’s bomb threat at Ballard Elementary School and is asking the community for help identifying the suspect(s).

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Niles Police Department was alerted to a  bomb threat at Ballard Elementary School, 1601 Chicago Rd. The threat was initially sent to the Michigan City Indiana Police Department’s Detective Bureau via email, indicating Ballard Elementary as the target. 

Upon cross-referencing, the detectives identified Ballard as the possible intended target of the threat and immediately contacted the Niles Police Department. School officials were promptly informed, and  the student evacuation plan was executed efficiently, ensuring all students and staff were safely  evacuated without incident. 

Police personnel from Niles Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and the Michigan  State Police conducted a thorough sweep of the school to ensure no individuals were left behind. The building was then secured, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Unit was summoned to  the scene. Bomb detection K-9 units from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and Corewell Health Security were also deployed as part of the search efforts. 

After a meticulous search of the school’s premises, inside and out, we can confirm that no explosive  devices were found. 

Authorities described the staff of Ballard Elementary as “extremely professional and efficient” in safely evacuating all students from the building. With prompt service from First Student bussing, the students were quickly relocated to a secure location and subsequently released into the care of their parents. 

The Niles Police Department is actively conducting a criminal investigation to identify and apprehend the individual(s) responsible for this false threat. We take these incidents with the utmost seriousness,  and we will utilize all available resources to ensure the safety of our community and to bring those  responsible to justice. 

In a news release, the NPD thanked the school administration, teachers, staff, state and county  ;aw enforcement partners and Corewell Health for their cooperation and response to the incident. 

“The safety of our children and schools are our highest priority, and such threats will always be treated  with the highest level of urgency and thoroughness,” the statement said.

Further information will be provided as the investigation progresses. The NPD encourages anyone with knowledge of the incident to come forward and contact the Niles Police Department at (269) 683-1313.