Police in both Brookfield and Riverside charged a 16-year-old Riverside-Brookfield High School student with felony counts of disorderly conduct, after the boy allegedly telephoned bomb threats to custodians at both the high school and S.E. Gross Middle School last week.
On Sept. 20, a custodian at Riverside-Brookfield High School called Riverside police just after 10:15 p.m. to report that someone had left a bomb threat on his cell phone voice mail stating, “There will be a bomb going off at 8 a.m., school start time. Call the police, call the FBI, call whomever you want. My number is on the bomb. Bye.”
Police searched the school that night and re-searched the building the next morning before classes, turning up nothing suspicious both times.
Meanwhile, just after 6:15 a.m. on Sept. 21, custodians at S.E. Gross School, 3524 Maple Ave. in Brookfield, reported to Brookfield police that someone had left a bomb threat on their voice mail around 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 20. The message was garbled somewhat, but stated that there was a bomb in the school, that it would glow and that they should call the FBI or police.
Classes at Gross School were delayed for approximately an hour, with children grouped by class in the parking lot, as personnel and bomb-sniffing dogs from the Cook County Bomb Squad searched the building. After getting the all-clear, students filed in just after 9 a.m.
After determining that the two incidents might be linked, and after statements from Gross School teachers said that they suspected a former student of allegedly leaving several prank phone calls for them in recent weeks, Riverside police contacted the boy’s family and interviewed him on Sept. 21. But after the boy’s father stated that he had been home with his son from 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 until the next morning, Riverside police didn’t press charges.
Then just before 6:15 a.m. on Sept. 22, Brookfield police received another call from a custodian at S.E. Gross School that a second bomb threat was left on the school’s voice mail, stating that the bomb “was going off at 9 a.m. sharp.”
Again, school administrators delayed classes while bomb-sniffing dogs and bomb squad officers scoured the building. Again the search turned up nothing. Under threat of rain, students gathered in the First Congregational Church of Christ across the street from the school.
“The kids and staff did a phenomenal job in handling both incidents,” said Gross School Principal Thomas Hurlburt. “There wasn’t a long transitional period to get the students back focused.”
Brookfield police on Sept. 22 were able to obtain phone records indicating where the bomb threats originated. Later that day, they arrested the boy, a Brookfield resident, charging him with two counts of felony disorderly conduct. Brookfield police then contacted Riverside police, who added a third charge of felony disorderly conduct against the boy after he allegedly admitting making the threat to the high school on his cell phone.
He was released into the custody of his parents pending a hearing before Cook County Juvenile authorities.
Riverside Assistant Police Chief Thomas Weitzel added that Riverside police are researching what their investigation cost and may attempt to recover that cost citing the village’s parental responsibility ordinance.