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Investigation Follows Grosse Pointe South Bomb Threat

Detectives are trying to track down the anonymous caller who made a bomb threat to one of the high school's secretaries but the history of the phone number may make prosecution difficult, Grosse Pointe Farms police say.

The called in to Thursday came from a phone number exchange out of Ohio and it's a number well-known for making prank phone calls. 

 Lt. Jack Patterson said dispatchers were able to track down the prank history on the phone number while doing some follow-up work at the police station as public safety officers worked on-scene. 

A group of girls, , were exiting the school when Patterson was arriving, he said. An emergency announcement was made inside the high school telling anyone inside to leave the building immediately, Patterson said.

In addition to the cheerleaders, a handful of school employees were inside and evacuated following the call. The Michigan State Police Bomb Squad robot revealed that the suspicious items near the South athletic stadiums were a scorch-marked T-shirt and box of fireworks.

Those items are believed to have been left behind by people who had been celebrating the recent Fourth of July holiday--not items that were placed there before the bomb-threat call, Patterson said. 

The call was far different than most school bomb threats, according to Patterson, Farms Public Safety Director Dan Jensen and Superintendent C. Suzanne Klein. The most obvious difference is that it happened during summer break when students are not likely to be in the building, they each said. 

More specifically, the caller provided many details, Patterson said, noting he also said he had a detonator, which typically suggests the person is watching the scene. Most people make the threat of a bomb and immediately hang up, Patterson said. 

This caller stayed on the phone with the secretary, answering her many questions--an action that gained compliments by Klein and Jensen at the scene after officials knew there wasn't a bomb. The secretary also retrieved the caller's phone number from the ID box on the telephone. Her ability to react well under stress helped her gain information that aided in the police investigation, officials have said.

Detectives will forward the case on to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office if they are able to link the call to a real human being, Patterson said, but given the history of the phone number, it may be a difficult task. 

Using a thermal scanner the department has for fire responses, the public safety officers were able to scan the area to see that nothing hot was in the area as the bomb-sniffing Michigan State Police dogs began arriving, Patterson said. The scan results made emergency officials slightly more confident that the call was a prank, but rather than risk the possibility of injury or worse, the robot was called in, he said. 

This is the first threat called into the district in the summer that Klein can recall. It is the first one in several years and the most recent one was at Grosse Pointe North, Jensen said. That one also turned out to be a prank, but occurred during the school year and forced evacuation of students, he said.

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