Two Hahnville High School students have been arrested after authorities say they planted a fake bomb in the school on Feb. 12, which led to the evacuation of students and staff.
A 17-year-old from Hahnville, along with a 16-year-old boy from Des Allemands were both booked and charged with fake explosive device, which carries up to five years in prison and reimbursement for the cost of response.
The two were arrested after another student told a teacher he had seen them making a package earlier that morning in art class, according to authorities.
Sheriff Greg Champagne said that a student first noticed the suspicious package at about 10 a.m. following a recess. It was left on the top of the lockers in the commons area of Hahnville, which is near the center of the school. The student alerted administrators and the school immediately went into a lockdown, as required by the emergency plan.
Students were evacuated to the gym and then dismissed from school early.
“The package was wrapped with two different colors of tape and had a thin wire that sort of looped around it,” Champagne said. “We called out the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s bomb techs because they have special equipment and training. When they saw it, they thought it looked real enough to ask us to expand the possible blast perimeter.”
Champagne said that both of the Sheriff’s Office’s bomb dogs also alerted to the device, which was probably because the tape wrapped around the package is commonly used in the manufacture of real explosives.
A Jefferson Parish tech, wearing a padded suit and helmet, x-rayed the package with a laser and determined that it was basically hollow without the “guts” found in a real explosive.
Though the device ended up being fake, Champagne said he and his officers considered the situation extremely serious.
“Several members of my staff have had extensive training in school emergency incidents, including school shootings, and we were faced with the possibility that this was in fact a bomb and that there might possibly have been others planted around the school to go off,” he said. “We also had to consider the possibility that this was a diversion and would cause the school officials to evacuate the students to areas where other bombs might be or the possibility that a shooter or shooters were outside waiting for an evacuation.
“Hence, the reason that lockdown is the first and immediate response is to minimize loss of life and injury if indeed it is a real attack.”
Because of that, all available deputies and detectives responded to the school immediately and were spread out to different areas to maximize coverage and enhance the ability to combat threats.
“We have had two active school shooting training sessions that were fairly realistic and utilized faculty members from every school in the district,” Champagne said. “The faculty and staff at HHS should be commended for acting quickly and calmly and I have no doubt that was due to the training we have all had together.”