On Wednesday morning, the day after Shippensburg Area School District officials learned of a bomb threat targeting the district’s high school, police patrolled the entrances to the building.
Both Superintendent of Schools Chris Suppo and Shippensburg Borough Police Chief Meredith Dominick stood outside as students entered the building from the front entrance and rear auditorium entrance.
"The response from the district was immediate,” Suppo said. “We contacted local police, which have been great to work with. Together we developed what we felt was a very comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of students and staff. We feel that our schools are a very safe place to be today."
"Communication is key," Dominick added. "And we had that. That is what I believe made this such a smooth process and a great morning for the kids. For them to have few hiccups."
"That extends not only to our communication between us, local law enforcement and regional law enforcement, but also communication to parents and the community was critical. Everybody should be proud of how this was handled today," Dominick said.
At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Suppo, Dominick and Shippensburg Mayor Kathy Coy held a press conference in the Shippensburg Area School District administrative building on North Morris Street. In a prepared press release, they announced after students were dismissed on Tuesday, district officials received a bomb threat targeting the high school.
Suppo said the superintendents’ office received a tip through a phonecall Tuesday afternoon, which began the process of preparing for Wednesday’s day of class. Suppo did not reveal the nature of the threat, and said that the investigation will continue.
“In the end the result was we just didn’t have enough information to say yes or no, and so we wanted to be very cautious and make sure our students and staff are safe,” Suppo said.
“It’s an open investigation, so everything is fluid. There were a few leads we were able to run down and to check out, and they did not net us what we had hoped to be able to definitively say ‘yes or no,’ or ‘yes we have a suspect’ or ‘no we don’t have a suspect,’” Dominick said.
“That is still open and ongoing. When that ends? We don’t know. Only the person responsible knows,” Dominick said.
While some parents insisted their children stay home, Suppo reported most students attended school.
“We can see clearly there are more students absent than normal, but I would say that given the circumstances, the vast majority of our parents recognize that with the cooperation of the local law enforcement, our schools are very safe today.”
It is unknown exactly how many students attended school today.
“If I had to guess, 75%, but that’s purely a guess,” Suppo said.
“K-9 Officers from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and the Carlisle War Barracks coordinated through the Shippensburg Police Department,” the release read.
Coy greeted students on their way into the building, and attended the press release.
“I think the school district and the local police officers and the outside organizations that came in worked very collaboratively to make the schools a safe place,” Coy said.
“I was there this morning at the high school at the back door just greeting the kids, telling them to have a great day,” Coy said. “Probably 75% of the students thanked the officers as they went through, and I think they felt secure to go in. I think that the presence made it better. I felt very safe with what we were doing.”
Suppo elaborated that even though the threat targeted Shippensburg High School, the plan the police and district implemented encompassed all students in the district.
“Our plan for the day didn’t end this morning when students came in,” Suppo said. “Today in particular is a very sensitive day for people understandably, and so we wanted to make sure that parents knew that yes, the threat was at the high school but we were concerned about all of our kids.”
Managing Editor Hannah Pollock contributed interviews to this story.