Updated: Police Arrest Pupil in Second Methuen High Bomb Threat

Architect’s rendering of Methuen High School, courtesy of Knight, Bagge & Anderson, Charlestown.

A Methuen High School student is under arrest today for what’s being called an unrelated, “copycat” threat against the school, a day after a “non specific” threat brought an evacuation of students.

Methuen Public School Superintendent Judith Scannell confirmed to WHAV late this morning Methuen police arrested a student who allegedly left a handwritten note this morning in a school bathroom.

“They received information that a note was left in a bathroom indicating that a bomb would go off. The administration acted quickly, started an investigation and within a half hour the student was identified. The student admitted writing the note and his reason, ‘just wanted to get out of school, didn’t want to be in school today,’” Scannell said.

According to Scannell, the note contained four words, the “high school will blow.” She added such behavior would not be tolerated.

“The education of all of our student will be disrupted and we hold that at a very high level to take care of all students. There was no alarm whatsoever going on in the high school. They weren’t evacuated, the children were not in harm’s way at all,” Scannell said. “This was a copycat and they acted very swiftly and got to the bottom of it.”

She declined to release the student’s age or grade level.

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has joined an investigation into a “non specific” threat Wednesday against Methuen High School.

Classes resumed without incident Thursday morning at Methuen High School, one day after authorities said an e-mail threat received by a staffer “disrupted a day in school.” Scannell told WHAV classes were “back to normal” at Methuen High. Meanwhile, at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said state police and the FBI are working to determine the source of the e-mail.

“As of right now there is nothing to tell us it was a legitimate threat. We do have some leads that we are following up just to verify some additional information. We also forwarded the e-mail to the fusion center from state police. And then we received a call, before we even had an opportunity to call, from the FBI. So we thank both agencies for being involved. I don’t know how much luck they will have tracing the e-mail but that’s what their goal will be,” Solomon said.

No device was found during a search with a state police k-9 unit of the high school and of student backpacks left behind while students were sent to a nearby school before being dismissed by Wednesday afternoon. Solomon said an e-mail threat was also received Wednesday at Tewksbury High School and while he was in communication with the police chief there, it appeared they were not connected to a string of “robo call” threats to other schools recently across the region.

“The threat was just an intent to disrupt like it did, to cause fear. And I think it’s a shame that disrupted the students’ day in school,” Solomon added.

Methuen Mayor Stephen N. Zanni said while student safety is most important, he was upset by the apparent hoax.

“Here we have somebody out there doing an injustice to a school system. Taking away an education from students of a day, keeping all the individuals, administration and other people at bay including the police department. Somebody out there sending an e-mail as they did to other schools, these people hopefully are found and are punished severely,” Zanni said.

Solomon added while the threat was “non specific,” the decision to evacuate Methuen High students was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

Earlier this week, Massachusetts State Police reported “confirmed bomb threats to school” in Groton, Weymouth, Taunton, Arlington, Plymouth, Waltham, Ayer, Tewksbury, Newton, Billerica, Swampsott, Boston, Kingston and Westford (Nashoba Valley Tech). Last week, there were threats at Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee, Plymouth, Weymouth, Arlington and Boston (Boston College High School).

State Police and the Fire Marshal’s Office said making bomb threats “carries a significant punishment,” including imprisonment for up to 20 years, or a fine of not more than $50,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

One thought on “Updated: Police Arrest Pupil in Second Methuen High Bomb Threat

  1. So making bomb threats “carries a significant punishment?” That’s assuming no one comes up with a sob story that justifies said bomb threat. Regardless of the excuse, this student should have the book thrown at him or her. NOTHING justifies a bomb threat — regardless of the reason. This is one dangerous Methuen has there.