Bomb Threat Evacuates Regina School for a Second Time
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - For the second time in this early school year, students at Iowa City’s Regina Catholic Education Center had to go to a “safe zone” on Wednesday after an unknown caller phoned in a bomb threat to the school.
The threatening calls came into the school about 12:15 p.m., and school officials promptly called police and initiated evacuation procedures, said Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton.
The suspect made more than one call to the school saying he was “a block away, wanted money and they had 20 minutes to evacuate,” Brotherton said. The caller also mentioned a bomb, she said.
School officials told investigators that the caller sounded like the man who called the school twice just before 9 a.m. Aug. 20 and said he was going to “blow up” the building. Classes were cancelled that day while authorities investigated the threat.
Investigators determined that threat was bogus after bomb dogs swept the building and the grounds surrounding the school – which houses students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th. No one was arrested or identified as a suspect in the August case, and police are investigating whether the two threats are connected.
“You have to take it seriously,” Brotherton said Wednesday during what amounted to another false threat. “No matter what.”
Bomb dogs provided by the University of Iowa’s Department of Public Safety and the Johnson County Metro Bomb Squad were notified of Wednesday’s threat and were on standby if initial responders found anything suspicious that warranted closer inspection.
They didn’t, and officers were cleared from the scene by 4:30 p.m.
Parents, some of who showed up outside the school at about 1 p.m., received text messages, phone calls and emails from the school updating them on the situation. Parents weren’t told where their children were being kept until about 1:30 p.m., and that was OK with Angela Icardi.
With students in both fifth and seventh grades, Icardi showed up at a gas station across from Regina on Wednesday while waiting for word on where she could pick up her kids.
“We don’t know where they are, but that is OK because they need to be safe,” Icardi said. “You never know, it could be a legitimate threat.”
Icardi praised Regina for its handling of the first threat and said the kids were not frightened. In fact, many said they didn’t know why they were in the safe zone until after the situation was over. It could have been a drill for all they knew, Icardi said.
“They were actually surprised when I told them why school had been cancelled,” she said.
Some parents chose not to tell their students the reason for the first evacuation, said Colleen Rogers, who has one student in pre-kindergarten at Regina and one in first grade. Rogers said she decided to tell her children the truth because she was worried they would find out from someone else.
“I did tell them that someone called the school and lied and said there was a bomb, but there wasn’t,” Rogers said, adding that her children were not afraid the first time. “But the second time could affect them a lot more.”
Although Rogers said it’s hard to believe someone would legitimately plant a bomb in the school, “It does cross your mind.”
“In this day and age, you never know,” she said.
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