Investigators unsure if bomb threat, others are connected

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Area schools, including Columbine HS, were placed on lockout Thursday while the incident was investigated

By Corinne Westeman

Investigators remain unsure whether the bomb threat at Columbine High School on Dec. 13 was part of a trend of such threats that were reported at multiple locations across the United States and three other countries.

National news outlets reported that courthouses, universities, newspaper offices and other locations received e-mails containing bomb threats in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Jeffco Sheriff’s Office and the school district are still investigating the threat at Columbine. Jeffco spokesman Deputy Mike Taplin said on Tuesday that the department couldn’t say for certain whether this threat was connected to the global trend.

Taplin confirmed that the call came in via a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

During the Dec. 13 Jeffco school board meeting, John McDonald, executive director of security and school safety, said that more than 50 law enforcement officers were at the scene under a unified command.

McDonald said that the caller reported there were 15 bombs inside and a shooter outside the building with an AK-47. Along with the JCSO, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved with the investigation.

“Next week or so, we may have a pretty good idea of what happened,” McDonald said in regards to who called in the threat. “ ... About that time, nationally, bomb threats started occurring at schools and businesses across the United States, so we believe that the Columbine threat was the first one that kicked that off.”

Superintendent Jason Glass commented, “We’re very sensitive to those sorts of attacks or threats anywhere in our district, but especially at Columbine.”

McDonald noted that the district has seen an increase of interest in the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers — Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris — killed 13 people and injured more than 20 others before killing themselves at Columbine High School.

“So it’s something we’ll be continuing to discuss and learn lessons from and look at how we manage this in the future,” he continued.

Initial incident

According to Taplin, authorities received the call at 9:20 a.m. on Dec. 13 about the possible threat.

Columbine High School, along with all other Jeffco schools in the Columbine, Dakota Ridge and Chatfield area, was put into immediate lockout while the threat was investigated.

“Unfortunately,” Taplin said at the scene, “we get a lot of threats like this, and we respond to each threat appropriately.”

Multiple law enforcement and fire agencies, including Morrison Police, Colorado State Patrol, Littleton Fire and South Metro Fire, were on the scene.

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-567-4491 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.