Berkley High School given all-clear after bomb threat

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

After Berkley Schools sent high-schoolers home Tuesday because of a bomb threat, the all-clear was given about 11 a.m.

The superintendent explained in an afternoon email to parents that students were allowed in to the school initially Tuesday morning because the threat was left on a voicemail of an employee who reports to work after most students arrive.

Officials about 2 p.m. said bomb-sniffing dogs searched the building and found no trace of a bomb. "We were given the 'all clear' sometime after 11:00 this morning," said Dennis McDavid, the district's superintendent, in an email to parents.

Officials said the call came from an area code outside of Michigan. They also said while they didn't believe the threat to be credible, they were taking precautions to keep students safe and dismissed high school students and closed the school for the day.

Addressing why the district allowed students in the building when the threat was issued the night before, McDavid said: "To be clear, a threatening message was left on an employee's voicemail. That employee reports to work at 7:30 a.m. and first checked her voicemail at approximately 7:35 a.m.

"As you may know, most of our students are in school before 7:35 a.m. She immediately let BHS Principal Randy Gawel know about the threat and he immediately called Berkley Public Safety. They arrived at BHS within minutes and we began the process of consulting with experts from the multiple agencies ..., assessing the threat and determining the best course of action."

McDavid added that the district will "take time to debrief our procedures and look for ways to improve."

"We'll also support our law enforcement agencies as they investigate this matter," he said.

The superintendent's email listed agencies that worked with the district on the threat: Michigan State Police, FBI, Macomb County Sheriff's Office, Oakland County Sheriff's Office, Detroit Police Department and its Bomb Squad, Wayne State University Public Safety, Detroit Public Schools Police, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Oakland Schools.