A bomb threat at Marana High School forced the evacuation of the school last Tuesday, interrupting classes and voting. The combined efforts of the Marana Police Department and Marana Unified School District staff made sure everyone was safe and there were no injuries.
At approximately 2:41 p.m. Marana High School administrators received a phone threat claiming there was an explosive device at the school. The school promptly contacted the Marana Police Department to inform them of the threat.
Cole Hunter, a full-time police school resource officer on campus, and school staff immediately began to evacuate as a precautionary measure. All students and staff were in the process of being evacuated, in accordance with the school’s Emergency Response Plan when additional Marana Police Department officers arrived on scene and immediately secured the area.
“This incident is a classic example of the importance of the School Resource Officer Position,” said Marana Police Department Public Information Officer Chris Warren. “When this incident occurred, Officer Hunter was already on campus and immediately started working with school officials to make sure the staff and students were safe.”
This was the exact type of incident that a school resource officer is designed to handle and Officer Hunter was prepared to handle the situation and was familiar with the school’s emergency plans.
“This enabled them to quickly put their plan into action,” said Warren.
Officer Hunter was also immediately able to use his police radio to communicate with our dispatch center and responding officers, aiding the officers who were
responding because they were getting firsthand information, as opposed to having to go through dispatch to communicate with school officials.
“If Officer Hunter had not been on at the school, there would have been a longer response time for a patrol officer to respond and start this same procedure,” said Warren. “Officer Hunter and the school administration did an excellent job of working together and communicating to make sure everyone on campus was safe at all times.”
Students were taken to a safe distance from the school and were supervised by school staff while the MPD was securing the scene.
By 3:20 Marana Police Department cleared the scene and school administration was advised by MPD that students and staff could return to the building. Marana High School was also being used as a polling place for the presidential primary and voting resumed shortly thereafter as well.
“MUSD considers the safety and well-being of students and staff to be our highest priority, and our schools follow comprehensive guidelines as established in their Emergency Response plan,” said MUSD Spokesperson Tamara Crawley. “MHS administration and staff responded to the situation immediately and knowledgably, ensuring student safety and validating the effectiveness of their emergency plan. We want to acknowledge the quick response of the Marana Police Department who secured the area and was able to quickly address the situation, providing students and staff the ability to return to class and complete their school day.”
Marana High School students were dismissed for the day at the regular dismissal time of 3:40 p.m. and most after-school activities and athletics were held.
Police investigators found nothing suspicious.
The school was one of several Tucson-area buildings to be evacuated on Tuesday due to phoned in bomb threats. Threats were made to the Pima County Attorney’s Office Avenue, and a federal office building. The threat to the Pima Country Attorney’s Office disrupted voter help phone lines set up to answer questions about voting eligibility, polling locations and other voting-related issues threats were made to the El Rio Community Health Center and the El Rio Learning Center. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix was also evacuated briefly on Tuesday because of a bomb threat.
This marks the second time an MUSD and MPD worked together to assess a threat. In January an innocent birthday post on social media went viral with additional re-postings taking on an ominous tone. The district and police department worked together to figure out there was no legitimate threat.