|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - February 24, 2008 - March 2, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Police Tell 172 OHS Students "Game Over"
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
By Valerie Reddell. Editor
ONALASKA — Onalaska police and fi refi ghters were called to Onalaska High School at 6:14 p.m. Thursday when custodial staff found a piece of paper on the fl oor of a classroom that said “bomb”. Police Chief Ron Gilbert said the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department evacuated workers from the school and a small squad of police and fi refi ghters in protective gear searched the school room by room.
“We had team members indicate the room was clear by a single click (on the radio),” Gilbert said. “Then we assembled teams and did a second full sweep of the school.” Sheriff Kenneth Hammack and several deputies also assisted with the search, Gilbert said. Onalaska police initially identifi ed fi ve students involved in the game who all gave statements that there was never any intent to harm any of the 65 to 75 students involved and they were part of a game
“Assassin” that is played on several college and high school campuses across the country. School and law enforcement offi cials are all strongly opposed to the game. “Assassin”, according to students and police interviewed for a report in USA Today in 2007 players seek to eliminate other students with a designated mock “weapon” usually outside of classrooms or after school. If successful, the student receives a new target, the eliminated player is out of the game. The last student standing is the winner. Offi cials the game had lost popularity after the Virginia Tech killing. Onalaska school administrators held a school-wide assembly Friday.
“We point-blank told them this is a serious offense,” Gilbert said. “There have been too many school incidents like Columbine and we are not going to play or let things slide.” Gilbert said leaving the notes could result in federal charges. After interviewing students from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the fi ve students initially detained were released to their parents and 22 citations were issued for disruption of a class-room.
“We really appreciated all the cooperation of the sheriff’s office, school officials and especially the fire department. They’re the ones that have to put their lives on the line to go and search for that stuff,” Gilbert said. Just as officers finished the school incident another bomb threat was phoned in to Olde House of Liquor liquor store. OVFD barricaded the area and evacuated staff from the store and advised nearby bank workers of the threat.
After emergency workers searched the building, police viewed security video at the store. Gilbert said the video showed two women behaving suspiciously in the store shortly before the threat was made. “We called back the number and she answered the phone and said this is so-and-so and we explained that she needed to come back to the store,” Gilbert said.
Two females were arrested a short time later on third degree felony charges of terroristic threat. Onalaska police are continuing the investigation