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No bomb found at Aspen schools

ASPEN, Colorado ” Authorities have left the scene at the Aspen School District campus, where no explosives were found, according to Bruce Benjamin, juvenile investigator for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office.

Students and faculty have begun setting up for the high school boys’ basketball game and play “South Pacific,” both still scheduled to take place this evening, he added.

Although sheriff’s department is confident the area is safe for the public, there will be private security and increased law enforcement presence at these events, according to a press release issued around 4:30 p.m.

Classes will resume as scheduled on Monday, March 9.

Authorities began investigating the school after Superintendent Diana Sirko was notified of a written threat on the wall of a boys’ bathroom at approximately 4 p.m. on Thursday. The threat reportedly said the high school school would be blown up on March 6, 2009.

Sirko immediately reported the incident to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Sirko and the school board, in concert with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, then decided to close all four schools on the main district campus on Friday, according to a press release issued Friday morning.

Parents were notified of the closures by email at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Friday night.

At 7 a.m. today, investigators and bomb technicians from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, along with two explosive detection dogs began a search of the building, said authorities. According to reports, they thoroughly combed every part of the high school, along with staff members who were familiar with each area. Nothing hazardous was found, said authorities.

Detectives and staff members also visually inspected the elementary school, the middle school and the preschool of the Aspen campus, according to the afternoon press release. They found nothing suspicious or dangerous.

In the athletic department, one of the sniffer dogs sat down and pointed at a cabinet, indicating the presence of a suspicious object. Investigators found only a starter pistol, used to signal the beginning of races. It contained a powder residue detected by the dog.

Benjamin said the investigation to determine who wrote the message on the wall is ongoing. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is exploring all leads, he said.

No suspects have yet been identified, Benjamin said. But the afternoon press release noted that several leads have already been developed in this case.

The sheriff’s department urges any people with knowledge of the identity or identities of those parties responsible for the bomb threat to call Benjamin at 920-5310.

A written threat like the one found at Aspen High School is known as false reporting of explosives, said Benjamin. It is a Class 6 felony, he said, punishable by 1 to 2 years in prison.


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