Police, Bag Checks at Columbia Falls Junior High Following Threat

School district taking precautions after shooting threat written on bathroom stall

By Dillon Tabish

Police officers will be in attendance at each of the schools in Columbia Falls on Thursday and backpacks will be checked at the junior high school in light of a threat written on a bathroom stall.

Superintendent Steve Bradshaw said the school district is taking precautionary measures although the threat could most likely be a hoax. At least one police officer will be stationed at each school building and a few more will be at the junior high, he said. Also, staff members will check backpacks when students arrive at the junior high on May 26. The district notified parents of the situation Tuesday.

Late Monday night, staff members discovered a threatening message written on a stall in the boys bathroom at Columbia Falls Junior High. The message stated, “school shooting 5/26.” A crisis response team, including law enforcement, investigated the situation Tuesday morning and a full investigation remains ongoing. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to a possible suspect and a tip line has been set up at (406) 881-4170.

“We do think it’s a prank, but at the same time you can never underestimate something like this and you have to pay attention to it,” Bradshaw said. “I’d rather overreact than under-react.”

Roughly 100 students did not show up at the junior high on Wednesday after the district’s message was sent to parents, Bradshaw said.

“With some of the stuff that’s going on around this country, I can totally understand why a parent would have a concern. At the same time, school days are valuable,” Bradshaw said.

The district is working closely with the Columbia Falls Police Department to investigate the incident and monitor the schools throughout the week.

Last month an unfounded bomb threat at Bigfork High School prompted a search by the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and detection dogs. The search was the result of a threat written on the wall of a science lab.

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