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Bomb threat prompts Ritzville schools closure

Nothing found; students return to campus Monday

RITZVILLE — "All clear!"

That's the word from Lind-Ritzville schools Superintendent Don Vanderholm after a bomb threat prompted officials to close the Ritzville campus today, Thursday, Oct. 5.

"Student safety is our first priority," Vanderholm said. "We took immediate action to evacuate the campus."

Vanderholm said nothing suspicious was found and that school officials are continuing to work with law enforcement investigating the threat.

Details of the threat have yet to be released.

It was not immediately clear if the threat specifically targeted Ritzville or if multiple schools were affected.

After receiving the threat, students were sent home and some sports schedules changed.

"The MS (middle school) football game vs. Reardan today has been moved back to 5:00 at this point," Athletic Director Dustan Arlt said in an email to the Bronco community about 1:20 p.m. "This is due to a safety incident at the Ritzville campus."

At the time, the high school volleyball team had already departed for Colbert for its game against Northwest Christian.

Cross country and high school football practice were moved from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"I know this might be a challenge for some out-of-town kids," Arlt said in an email to the Bronco community. "It is the best we could do with everything going on this afternoon at the school and many unknowns when things would be cleared or not to resume activities.

Middle school volleyball team was not scheduled to practice today.

Classes here will resume under normal procedures on Monday, Oct. 9. Students have the day off Friday due to a previously scheduled in-service day for teacher training and preparation.

The threat remains under investigation.

"Forensic specialists are working on our behalf to address this inexcusable act and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice," the superintendent said. "Sadly, we are not the only regional schools being impacted by swatting/hoaxing/bomb-threats."

Vanderholm thanked law enforcement, first responders, school district employees and parents for making sure students returned home safely.

"We will continue taking every precaution to ensure our campuses are safe to resume normal operations," he said. "Unless otherwise notified, assume schools will be open for normal operations on Monday, 10/09/23.

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Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is co-owner and publisher of Free Press Publishing. An award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher who grew up in Eastern Washington, he's one of only two Washington state journalists ever to receive the international Golden Quill for editorial/commentary writing. Roger is committed to preserving local media, and along with it, a local voice for Eastern Washington.


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