Sunday, December 10, 2023

Lafayette High School evacuated after bomb threat

Update 12:32 p.m.: Lafayette High School has been reopened after it was evacuated Monday morning following a bomb threat. According to a tweet from Williamsburg-James City County Schools, students and staff are reentering the building and will be served lunch. The fourth block period of the day has been shortened and dismissal remains at its regular time. 

Over 1,000 students and personnel were evacuated from Lafayette High School Monday morning due to a bomb threat, officials said.

The threat came in via a phone call at 10:15 a.m., according to James City County Battalion Chief Al Catlett. 

James City County Police and fire marshals were on the scene conducting an investigation around 11 a.m. and students were evacuated to the back of the track and field area of the school. Buses were moved to area to provide heat for students, Catlett said. 

“Everything is safe and secure at the time being, but they are investigating the threat,” Catlett said shortly before 11 a.m. Police blocked traffic from entering the school grounds while officials investigated the threat.

As the investigation was underway, parents of Lafayette students gathered outside the school looking for information on the status of their children. 

“I’m not nervous at all because I pray,” said Scherra Smith, mother of a Lafayette student. “I just want them to hurry up and release her so she can go home and eat and rest.”

Authorities were conducting a search of the premises shortly before noon Monday. Newport News bomb squad units were called in to provide mutual assistance to James City County police and fire, Catlett said. 

WJCC Schools tweeted at 11 a.m. that the high school was evacuated “as a precaution,” adding that police and fire were on the scene.

The school division sent out an alert to parents shortly after the threat was received, according to WJCC schools spokesperson Betsy Overkamp-Smith. 

“Students and staff will not return to the building until a thorough search has been conducted,” read the alert. “School grounds are currently inaccessible to the public, and I ask you to please not come to the school. An additional announcement will be made once students and staff return to the building.”

This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Newport News first responders provided assistance, the city’s bomb squad units provided assistance. 

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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