2 more teens charged in string of bomb threats
FARMINGTON — Two more juveniles are in police custody in connection to the string of bomb threats reported throughout San Juan County over the last few weeks.
Police on Wednesday took two 13-year-old male suspects into custody for their alleged involvement in a bomb threat found Tuesday at Mesa View Middle School in Farmington, according to a Farmington Police Department press release. Both of the teens were students at Mesa View Middle School.
One of the teenagers has been charged with causing a bomb scare, a fourth-degree felony, and interference with the educational process, a petty misdemeanor. The other boy was charged with conspiracy to commit a bomb scare, a fourth-degree felony.
A total of three students are facing charges related to more than a dozen recent bomb threats. A 13-year-old student from Hermosa Middle School was arrested Tuesday in connection to a bomb threat reported at the school. The Hermosa student was also charged with causing a bomb scare and interference with the educational process.
There have been more than a dozen bomb threats in San Juan County since Nov. 23 when a threat was found on a bathroom wall at the Walmart on East Main Street. There were two bomb threats Wednesday at Farmington schools. The first bomb threat was found on a wall in the boy's bathroom at 8:15 a.m. at Piedra Vista High School.
Farmington Police Department spokeswoman Georgette Allen said the high school was locked down while officers searched for a bomb. The lockdown was lifted at approximately 9:30 a.m. after no bombs were found.
This is the second time in less than a week that Piedra Vista has gone into lockdown due to a bomb threat. The school also had a bomb threat Friday morning.
Another bomb threat was found at about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday at Apache Elementary School. The school was locked down for approximately 20 minutes, Allen said. She said that was the second bomb threat found at Apache Elementary. The first was reported shortly after 3 p.m. Monday. The school was locked down until 3:50 p.m. Monday while officers searched the school.
Other threats have been found at Farmington High School, Tibbetts Middle School, Aztec High School, the Animas Valley Mall, Heights Middle School, Hermosa Middle School and Mesa View Middle School. No actual bombs have been found in any of the cases.
In a Farmington City Council work session Tuesday, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said multiple people are likely behind the threats. Allen said the police are looking into multiple leads but she did not know exactly how many police are investigating.
The threats have prompted the Farmington Municipal School District to take extra security precautions, including having staff escort students across campus and checking the school bathrooms every half hour, according to Piedra Vista Principal Dave Golden.
He said the school is focusing on helping students do well on their exams this week.
"That's our priority right now, student success, second to student safety," Golden said.
Also this week, three bomb threats were discovered at two Central Consolidated School District schools.
CCSD spokesman James Preminger said two bomb threats were found in bathrooms at Shiprock High School on Monday and Wednesday, and there was one threat found at Newcomb High School on Tuesday.
Shiprock High students and staff were evacuated to the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center Wednesday after a bomb threat was found at about 11 a.m. When students returned to class, the school operated under shelter in place restrictions for the rest of the school day. When a school is under shelter in place, staff lock classroom doors and continue teaching.
Monday's threat at Shiprock High was discovered at about 4 p.m., and students on campus in after-school tutoring and sports practice were evacuated to Eva B. Stokely Elementary School, where they remained until they were picked up by parents.
The bomb threat at Newcomb High was found at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, and the district placed the high school, Newcomb Middle and Elementary schools under shelter in place on Wednesday. That restriction was lifted at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Newcomb Elementary to accommodate the school’s Christmas program. Both the high school and middle school stayed under shelter in place through the end of the school day.
Preminger said CCSD is working with the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety to identify suspects in the three cases. He said anyone with information related to the incidents should contact San Juan County Crime Stoppers.
A $2,500 reward is available for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest related to the bomb threats. People can leave tips by calling 505-334-8477, through the Farmington Police Department's mobile app or at sjccrimestoppers.org.
Reporter Joshua Kellogg contributed to this story.
Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.