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UPDATE: Suspicious device was a hoax, was not explosive

Updated: Tuesday, September 10 2013, 07:01 PM CDT
Reported by: Kyle Rogers

MARION -- What turned out to be a hoax caused hours of panic today at a Franklin County pre-school.

This afternoon, teachers rushed kids out of the Growing Tree Pre-School on Social Island Road after someone called in a bomb threat.

The school, situated just off Molly Pitcher Highway/U.S. 11 in Guilford Township, is affiliated with the Marion Mennonite Church, and the school is actually in the church building.

Police say they did find a device where the caller said it would be.

The caller said a bomb would go off as kids were being dismissed from school, and the bomb squad did find a bomb where the caller said it would be, but what they found was not a bomb; it would not and could not explode. 

The good news that the device wasn't actually a bomb is reassuring, but this small town in rural Franklin County is still shaken up.

"There were people traumatized over this," Ken Nebelong, a church member, said. 

Roads were closed after someone called the school. 

"Our bomb squad investigated the device and found it to be a non-explosive," Trooper Rob Hicks, state police spokesman, said. One source said the device appeared to be firecrackers wrapped around a bottle.

"Our canine team and our bomb squad went inside the school and didn't find any devices inside," he added.

The kids at the church evacuated the building and went to nearby Shalom Christian Academy, where their parents picked them up. All of the children are safe.

"We're not used to this kind of stuff around here," Nebelong added. 

Drivers on U.S. 11 were detoured around the site for hours as police investigators combed over the school. After a detailed search, police said the building was safe.

"I just can't believe that somebody would go that low to essentially scare women and children," Nebelong said. "For somebody to go that low... I mean, that's just a coward."

The investigation into the hoax call is on-going, and a source tells CBS 21 that police are looking into caller ID to find that caller, but that process could take weeks.

This has really shaken this small community, but residents say they're happy with the speed and efficiency of the police response.

Forensic teams will be looking at the device, analyzing it, and hoping to find the person who did this.


Reported by: Kyle Rogers

The State Police have just confirmed that the suspicious device was not explosive and was a hoax. 

The State Police Bomb Squad found a suspicious device in the same general location where the caller who made the bomb threat said the bomb would be.

That device was been removed, and police determined it to be a hoax. 

Things escalated near Marion where the State Police Bomb Squad has a robot investigating the Marion Mennonite Church.
 
Around 630 p.m., more cops showed up at the scene after a suspicious item was found. 

Police recently held a press conference where they filled the media in on exactly what was happening, and did say that the device has been removed from the church property.

The incident started around 3 p.m. when several kids who go to that preschool inside the church were evacuated earlier Friday afternoon.  They were taken to nearby Shalom Christian Academy.

Police say somebody called into the school saying a bomb would go off as kids were leaving the school.

We are on scene and will continue to keep you up to date with the latest information.  UPDATE: Suspicious device was a hoax, was not explosive


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