UPDATE: Vashon Island High School early dismissal because of ‘threat’; KCSO says it was ‘false alarm’

1:37 PM: Thanks to the parents who shared the communication from the Vashon School District, which has hundreds of “commuter” students, most from West Seattle:

Vashon High School students have been dismissed for the day due to a bomb threat at the school. Law enforcement is on site doing an investigation, and expect to be in the building for the remainder of the day. Students and staff will not have access to the building for the remainder of the day.

The announcement from superintendent Michael Soltman goes on to say that bus riders and walkers already have been sent home in those respective ways and “ferry commuter students” will be on an upcoming sailing, adding “Vashon Island High School sport practices, games and club activities have been cancelled.” Everyone is OK, and the island’s other two public schools remain in session. We’ll be checking with the King County Sheriff’s Office about the investigation.
2:01 PM: We checked with Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office, and here’s what she says investigators discovered:

The school found what they said was a suspicious device in a locker. The school was evacuated. Turns out it was a portable cooler and the battery was beeping that it was low. The student was supposed to have it so it was a false alarm.

2:15 PM: Sgt. West sent this photo of the cooler:

13 Replies to "UPDATE: Vashon Island High School early dismissal because of 'threat'; KCSO says it was 'false alarm'"

  • Mary October 2, 2017 (2:09 pm)

    My granddaughter is a student there. Must have been frightening!

  • WSMom October 2, 2017 (3:10 pm)

    That must have been very scary.  This is one reason why I keep my kids nearby because if something really did happen I want them close by, not a ferry ride away.

  • Simon October 2, 2017 (3:43 pm)

    Sorry for having a mini fridge in my locker. 

    • Rachel Waldron October 3, 2017 (6:39 am)

      It says you were supposed to have it, but Soltman says it was an unfortunate decision. Do you keep it for low blood sugar? It only seems fair to take the blame off if you were supposed to have it. 

  • KBear October 2, 2017 (3:43 pm)

    I hope they’ll be investigating why cooler heads didn’t prevail in this incident. The beeping should’ve been their first clue that it was not a hidden explosive device. 

    • WSB October 2, 2017 (3:54 pm)

      Honestly, we don’t have further context, and today of all days, with so many people waking up to news of the Vegas massacre (if you were offline by 11 pm, you wouldn’t have heard about it till a.m.), I would cut just about everyone some slack for being jumpy.

    • Dan October 2, 2017 (4:53 pm)

      “Cooler heads.”  Heh.

    • The King October 2, 2017 (6:02 pm)

      A quick google search of – beeping explosive device might change your mind. I got the privelege to watch the Explosive Ordinance Disposal crews train while I was in the Air Force, the stories they told were unreal of what can be improvised into an explosive device. 

  • Craig October 3, 2017 (10:49 am)

    I get that people are nervous due to Las Vegas, but because something beeped doesn’t make it a bomb. Far from it. Everything in my life beeps at me, my phone, clocks, computer, watch, motorcycle, toaster, etc. Bombs don’t beep. Why would they? That’s only on TV shows. I’m not saying that caution isn’t a good thing, but jeez people, don’t panic 24/7. Step 1, ask the student what’s in his locker. Step 2 the good kid says it’s his cooler. Step 3, get it some new batteries and be done with it. My POV might be different having been in Iraq and been in a few blasts (never a beep) and working with Army EOD here and there, but we need to keep calm first or ‘they’ win. Here’s the cooler on Amazon, btw: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Choice-Products-SKY1591-Portable/dp/B00EAXDLAO

    • Nunya October 3, 2017 (1:03 pm)

      Who’re they, exactly?

      There are all sorts of reasons a bomb or a fake bomb may beep. I can think of a few right here but I won’t list them and engage in a rather academic discussion about it. 

      Given that the only thing we actually know from this post is the few paragraphs above and a picture that seems designed to minimize what was found I’d say that you’re presumptuous post is out of line.

       As reported more fully by the Vashon Island Beachcomber, the administrators who opened the locker after the report of beeping, found what turned out to be the cooler, an inverter and a car battery and a whole bunch of wires. The battery was concealed in a bin and large wires disappeared into it. In fact the deputies who were on the bomb squad said that the administrators did the right thing in evacuating the school.

      School administrators have one hell of a burden place placed upon them They are responsible for educating our children, disciplining them and keeping them safe. I wonder, what would you have said if it had turned out to be something more sinister and they had messed with it? Would you be so carelessly dismissive of their caution?

  • Jim P. October 3, 2017 (12:12 pm)

    People watch too many movies and TV shows and think all “bombs” have highly visible countdown timers, flashing lights and make beeping. noises

    The locker belongs to a kid, you ask the kid.  Simple and effective.

    As for those who say you cannot be too careful, I suggest a careful reading of the ancient story “The Boy Who Cried “Wolf”.

    Living in constant fear that every strange event is a “terrorist attack” has serious detrimental consequences to life and society. Fear is the founding stone of every dictatorship in history.

    • Nunya October 5, 2017 (8:12 am)

      This is inaccurate. No, not all bombs have timers flashing lights, beeps and the like But just as snipers would shoot one soldier and wound them to draw out others there are incidents of bombs being used to do the same.  Here are a few clips from the article Tracy referenced:

      She (Baron) opened the locker and saw this device on top of a basket. She lifted it up and saw wires and something black. We called 911,” Rock said.” So, (Baron) didn’t just see a mini fridge. (cutting and pasting changed the font and I can’t seem to get it back), she saw other things as well.

      The sheriff’s office advised cancelling school for the day, so students were bussed home, picked up by parents, released to walk home or escorted to their vehicles at the high school. KCSO made the recommendation to close the school.

      “The fact that it was sitting on this car battery, beeping, making lights flash with a cooler on top of it were all super good reasons to call the bomb squad,” he said. “They (the sheriff’s deputies) said we absolutely made the right call.” Again, the decision to cancel the remaining day was backed up by the bomb squad, based on what was found.

      By the way, when you find something suspicious you don’t just go find the person who did it. Do you ask a bomber to tell you if something  is a bomb? No. That this was not a bomb is immaterial to the question. Given the number of mass shootings at schools, by students, this seems to have been the proper decision and is backed up by the police and the bomb squad. Jim P. you’ve no leg to stand on.

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