PALO — A bomb threat displaced more than 75 students and faculty from Palo Community Schools on Wednesday afternoon.
Ionia County Central Dispatch received a call at about 12:45 p.m. regarding a bomb threat at the elementary school that houses kindergarten through sixth grade.
School librarian Bonnie Staffen, who was covering for the school secretary, said she took the call about the bomb threat. The caller had a young, female voice.
“I answered the phone and she said ‘Bomb! There is a bomb in the school!’ Then she hung up,” Staffen said.
She said at first she was shocked and tried to see if the girl was still there by asking “What? Hello?” but the person had hung up.
Staffen said she contacted a teacher and told her what had happened. They agreed the teacher would gather everyone and get them outside while Staffen called the police.
All 75 students and faculty made it out safely.
“Everyone is fine,” Staffen said.
Ionia County Sheriff’s Deputy Frederick Straubel said a perimeter was set up around the school while the bomb threat was being investigated.
A bomb dog was called in from Clinton County to investigate, and later, a bomb dog from the Rockford Michigan State Police Post was also called in to assist. A bomb was never found on school grounds.
At first, students and faculty walked to Ronald Township Fire Department a block away, but were later moved to Palo Methodist Church, which had a warmer room and restrooms.
“I was a little scared,” said fifth-grader Brennen Davie. “I was told there was a bomb in the school.”
While waiting to be released to his parents, Davie said he and other students played games such as Heads Up, Seven Up and Tick-Tac-Toe.
Parents were able to sit with the children, but students were not allowed to leave until about 2:45 p.m. when Ionia County Sheriff’s officers gave permission. However, students were not allowed to go back and claim items they had left at the school.
Davie’s father, Shane Davie, said he was never notified about the bomb threat, but lived close to the school and heard something was going on.
“We were panicked,” he said. “I hope they found out who did this.”
Lt. Roger Vander Molen said in most circumstances parents would have been notified, but in this case, since everyone had to evacuate the school, resources were not available for the school to contact the parents.
“A letter will be sent home with the students to notify parents of what happened,” Vander Molen said.
Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police Rockford Post, Ronald Township Volunteer Fire Department and Life Ambulance assisted Ionia County Sheriff’s Office at the scene.