SANTEE — “I have a bomb going off at 1 p.m. today at LMHS.”
That message found written on a wall in one of the student restrooms at Lake Marion High School Thursday morning resulted in the evacuation of the school and early dismissal of students.
According to a press release from Gerald Wright, Orangeburg Consolidated School District Three executive director, “a custodian discovered the message at 9:15 a.m. and immediately reported it to school administrators.”
“At that time, school administrators notified the on-campus school resource officer,” Wright said.
In accordance with established safety procedures, Lake Marion High was placed on lock-down and all students and staff were immediately evacuated from the building, he said.
“Students were dismissed at approximately 11:30 a.m. for the remainder of the day. The building was checked and cleared by law enforcement and the local fire department for re-entry at 1:30 p.m.,” Wright said.
Classes at Lake Marion High will resume on Friday, he said.
Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell posted on the OCSO Facebook page that his officers were investigating the bomb threat.
“Lake Marion High School officials notified us of a bomb threat at the school. We responded and searched the school after all students and personnel were evacuated,” Ravenell said in the post. “School district officials dismissed the students. No one re-entered the school until approximately 1:30 p.m.”
He added, “Our investigation is ongoing to determine the person or persons responsible for the threat.”
Anyone with any information concerning the person who made the bomb threat is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at 803-534-3550 or CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC.
Nancy DeBruyne, parent of a freshman at Lake Marion High, said she received an automated message on her mobile phone at 10:18 a.m. from the district’s superintendent that the school “was on lock-down because of security measures and that no visitors were permitted to enter or leave the school.”
She said she received an additional automated message about an hour later, at 11:16 a.m., stating that as of 11 a.m., Lake Marion High had officially dismissed its students for the day and that students who rode buses to and from school would be taken home accordingly.
DeBruyne praised the district’s administration and its alert system, saying, “They acted very fast and efficiently to ensure the students’ safety. Literally, within minutes, the school was evacuated onto the football field.”
Wright said the automated dial-out alert system is an effective method to reach parents. However, he acknowledged there is always a possibility that some parents may inadvertently be missed.
At around 10 a.m., all of the entrances and exits at LMHS were cordoned off and firefighters from Santee, Vance and Providence began monitoring them. Providence Fire Chief “Shot” Shuler said firefighters were called to the school to assist with traffic control and monitoring.
Wright said the school evacuation process “went well.”
“We had great cooperation from students, staff members, administrators, the Sheriff’s Office, fire departments and bus drivers,” he said.
Ravenell added, “We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Santee, Vance and Providence area fire departments as they helped in this investigation.”
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.