As of Thursday night, four schools in Bristol have not yet been the victim of threats over the last 10 days. Aside from eight schools falling victim to threats, the city has been able to capture three suspects, two of whom are just 10 years old. The other is 13. On Thursday police arrested two 10-year-old girls, and the 13-year-old suspect was arrested on Wednesday.
The city held a public forum Thursday evening to answer questions and explain security measures that would capture the suspects. Before Thursday, there were six schools that had received threats, but Greene Hills and Edgewood Schools were added to the list later in the day.
In addition to Thursday's two threats, three happened on Wednesday at Stafford Elementary School, St. Paul Catholic High School and Chippens Hill Middle School. Also in the last 10 days, Bristol Eastern and Bristol Center high schools and Northeast Middle School have been disrupted because of threats.
Since the amount of threats have increased in the last 48 hours, police have been stepping up surveillance by adding cameras in certain areas and honing in on students passing by when the threats were discovered.
"When students move from place to place, we are tracking them very closely," said Superintendent of Schools Ellen Solek.
Administrators are just as surprised about the ages of the suspects as parents are and that the copycat game police believe is being played is reaching all the way to elementary schools.
Bristol Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said while the suspects are juveniles and will be charged in court as such, they will still be seen as convicted felons because the crimes are very serious.
Mayor Ken Cockayne said parents will be held responsible and the city will go after all of the money it takes when responding to a hoax.
"This is not a game, we are handling this seriously," Cockayne added.
Parents like Desira Chapdelaine, a West Bristol School parent, are shaken and are keeping their children out of school.
"I know it's likely it is children that just want days off from school, but I'm not willing to take chances with my children's safety," Chapdelaine added.
In addition to whatever punishments the courts hand down to these suspects, those found responsible will be expelled from Bristol schools for at least one year. As graduation season approaches, police have said they are already planning to increase security.
"This is costing us, at minimum, $40,000 per call between the fire, police, ambulance and the resources we have to bring here. It's taking away from other emergencies," Cockayne said, adding that there is a $1,000 reward for anyone who can help police catch who is responsible for these threats. The district will also stop dismissing school immediately after a threat is found. Instead, police will investigate and classes will resume.
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