One suspect arrested in Hermosa bomb threat

The reward for information about a series of bomb threats in Farmington and Aztec has increased to $2,500.

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
  • A total of 11 bombs threats have been made in Farmington, Aztec since Nov. 23.
  • Nine bomb threats have been found at public schools.

FARMINGTON — Police have arrested a juvenile suspect in connection with one of three bomb threats discovered at three Farmington middle schools on Tuesday.

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said a 13-year-old male student was arrested following a bomb threat at Hermosa Middle School after several students reported the student to the school resource officer.

Heights, along with Hermosa and Mesa View middle schools, were all placed on preventive lockdown Tuesday in response to bomb threats discovered in men’s bathrooms at each of the three schools.

There have been a total of 11 bomb threats in Farmington and Aztec since Nov. 23 with nine of them discovered at county public schools.

The unidentified juvenile male was charged with bomb scares, a fourth-degree felony, and interference with the educational process, a petty misdemeanor. The student was being held at the San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center Tuesday evening.

Allen said the department hopes others will come forward with information on the other bomb threats.

A bomb threat prompted an evacuation at the Walmart on East Main Street in Farmington on Nov. 23 after a message was discovered in a bathroom at the business. Since Dec. 7, there have been 10 similar bomb threats reported throughout the county.

In addition to the Walmart, threats have been found at Farmington High SchoolTibbetts Middle SchoolAztec High SchoolPiedra Vista High School and the Animas Valley Mall.

Cody Diehl, director of support services for the Farmington Municipal School District, said that, according to district policy, the student could face a long-term suspension and possible expulsion.

“I hope people understand it’s not funny, it’s not a laughing matter. It’s serious and we are going to act accordingly,” Diehl said.

Diehl said district administrators have advised the principals at each of the district’s 17 schools to be vigilant with bathroom sweeps and to restrict movement in buildings during the school day.

The reward for information that leads to an arrest in connection with the bombs threats has increased from $500 to $2,500 with contributions from local governments and a Farmington business.

Allen said the city of Farmington, San Juan County and Lori Gray, co-owner of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the Animas Valley Mall, pledged the additional money.

San Juan County Crime Stoppers initially offered the $500 reward. Since then, the city of Farmington has pledged to contribute $1,000, and both Gray and the county added $500 each.

Gray said that it's important the people behind the threats are arrested because they are disrupting school and caused her and other local businesses to lose money when the mall was evacuated on Saturday.

During a Farmington City Council work session Tuesday morning, Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe said it's difficult to catch the suspects because there are no cameras in bathroom stalls.

"At the end of the day, it's glorified graffiti," Hebbe said.

The police department is working with the San Juan County District Attorney's Office and the FBI to determine appropriate state and federal charges that can be filed against suspects, according to a statement released by Farmington police Tuesday morning. The charges could include restitution to recoup expenses related to the threats.

Tips can be submitted at sjccrimestoppers.org, through the Farmington Police Department's mobile app and by calling 505-334-8477.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.