A bomb threat at Middletown High School resulted in a security lock-down Thursday and then a report of a person with a rifle in the area near the school resulted in a lock-down at all Appoquinimink District schools, but nothing suspicious was found by police.

Delaware State Police are investigating a pair of threats at Middletown High School Thursday that resulted in a lock-down at all Appoquinimink District schools.

A security lock-down was ordered at Middletown High School after a bomb threat, and then a report of a person with a rifle in the area near the school resulted in a lock-down at all district schools, said Master Cpl. Michael Austin.

Nothing suspicious was found by police and all schools except Middletown High School were removed from the lock-down in time for afternoon dismissal at the usual time.

At Middletown High, police supervised dismissal of students, and all after-school activities were cancelled.

As scheduled, there are no classes for students today, Friday, Oct. 5, but schools are open for staff professional development training.

Police report about threats

Master Cpl. Austin said at about 12:32 p.m., an unknown male called the main office at Middletown High School at 120 Silver Lake Road, stating that he was in possession of a bomb, and that he was on his way to the school.

The call taker immediately advised the school administration as well as the school resource police officer assigned at the school.

The school was immediately placed on lock-down and additional state troopers were requested to assist with the search of the school.

About 10 minutes after the initial threatening call, a second call was received by the dispatch center in which a male caller stated that he was in the area of Middletown High School and was in possession of a rifle.

After the second threat, all schools in the Appoquinimink School District were placed on lock-down as a precautionary measure, even though the only corroborated threat involved Middletown High School.

Additional law enforcement personnel were requested to assist with securing the perimeter around the school and to assist with searching the area. Agencies lending assistance to the Delaware State Police included the Middletown Police Department, New Castle County Police Department, Department of Natural Resources K-9 Unit, Delaware River & Bay Authority and Delaware City Police Department.

As part of perimeter security, Route 299 was closed between Silver Lake Road and Brick Mill Road during the investigation.

A systematic search of the interior and exterior of Middletown High School, which included the utilization of multiple explosive detection K-9 teams, proved negative for any suspicious objects or explosive devices, Austin said.

The surrounding area of the school was also searched on foot by multiple law enforcement officers as well as by air by a Delaware State Police helicopter. This search was also negative for any type of suspicious object, person or weapon.

During the search of Middletown High School, information was received that there was an incident occurring inside Redding Middle School, which was immediately assessed, checked and proved to be unfounded, by officers who were already on site providing perimeter security.

After all buildings were cleared and deemed secure, school dismissal proceeded as normal, with the only exception being at Middletown High School where a staggered dismissal was initiated.

The total time that schools were on lock-down was approximately 90 minutes.

After all students and staff were cleared from Middletown High School, Troopers performed a follow-up search of the building and campus as a precautionary measure, which again produced nothing suspicious.

Appoquinimink superintendent's message

Appoquinimink School District Superintendent Matt Burrows gave this statement after the lock-downs:

"On behalf of our students, staff and board, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude for your collective efforts to ensure student safety. We are indebted to our local law enforcement officials, state and county police for responding quickly, in force, with decisiveness, after a threat was made.

"We are indebted to the community for enduring traffic disruptions while police swept the area. We are indebted to our parents and guardians for making the process of securing campuses easier by not coming to school during the lock-down.

"We are indebted to our bus drivers and contractors for working extra hours without complaint, so that students made it home safely. We are indebted to our staff for their professionalism, courage and cooperation -- actions that epitomized the resolve of our entire community.

"Finally, I am proud, very proud of our students for demonstrating maturity, following directions and acting in a responsible manner - in short, for putting into practice the safety lessons we practice throughout the year.

"School Resource Office Detective Mack Evans will be heading up the investigation into today's bomb threat. If you have any information about the incident, please contact him at (302) 376-4141 ext. 3002, Mac.Evans@appo.k12.de.us.

"Meanwhile, counselors at our all our schools are trained and ready to provide support should your student who wish to discuss today's events or exhibit signs of distress.

"In closing, let me reassure you that the safety of your student is job number one. We are honored that you have entrusted your child to our care and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their protection."

Investigation continues

Master Cpl. Austin said the investigation into the threats is ongoing and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Evans, as Superintendent Burrows stated, at(302) 376-4141 ext. 3002, Mac.Evans@appo.k12.de.us. 

Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or on the internet at http://www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.