As a bomb threat put Hough High School on lockdown for the fourth time in a week Tuesday, a bomb squad captain with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police highlighted the high costs and danger associated with responding to fake calls.
The school issued a “modified lockdown” about 10:15 a.m., due to what a CMS spokesperson said was “unsubstantiated rumors” received by officials. The lockdown was lifted after about 40 minutes.
Capt. Steven Brochu said it costs several thousand dollars every time the bomb squad is deployed.
And when it finds devices that look suspicious, technicians risk their lives by building bombs whose purpose is to deactivate other explosives.
That’s what happened Monday at Hough when authorities found a suspicious package at the school.
“The technicians had to actually load live explosives ... they’re handling all of that and it ends up being a hoax device. It’s disconcerting for us,” Brochu said.
Cornelius police evacuated the school as CMPD detectives worked to ensure the package was not a real bomb.
Student Bronco Villafranca, 18, and a juvenile were arrested in connection with the incident.
Villafranca was charged with perpetrating a hoax by use of a false bomb and conspiracy. The second student was taken to a juvenile detention facility, police said.
Another Hough student is charged with making a false bomb threat in connection with two phony reports received April 23.
No package was found at the time 16-year-old Riley Bowlin allegedly made the threats, police said, but the school was evacuated later in the day when a suspicious item was found at the school.
Police determined that package was also not dangerous.
Brochu said the bomb squad unit was prepared for an increased number of false bomb reports in the area after the Boston Marathon bombings. But other than the string of threats at Hough High, that hasn’t happened.
Authorities will make sure the student suspects are held accountable, the CMPD captain said.
“The torment to the students and the fear factor was pretty disturbing,” Brochu said.
Staff reporters Steve Lyttle and Elisabeth Arriero contributed
Steele: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @steelecs
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