Great Falls police found no suspicious devices in its schools Monday after a handwritten bomb threat led to the closure of all schools in the town, police and the schools superintendent said during a press conference.
A public school custodian found a note attached to the exterior of a Great Falls elementary school around 5:20 a.m. Monday and reported the threat immediately, Lieutenant Jeff Newton said.
The note included "threatening verbiage, including a bomb threat, targeting multiple schools in the community, according to a police press release.
Around 7 a.m. GFPD had announced via Facebook that Great Falls schools would be closed Monday due to "an ongoing police investigation."
The post did not name specific schools, but began by stating that "ALL GREAT FALLS SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TODAY!!!"
The closures included both public and private schools in Great Falls, according to a Great Falls Police Department Facebook post, which also stated, "We believe Cascade County rural schools are not affected."
The police department kept overnight cops on duty late, and called in afternoon cops early and officers scheduled to be off Monday. Police searched every school in Great Falls and cleared all threats Monday, Newton said.
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School will resume as usual for Great Falls Public Schools on Tuesday, Superintendent Tom Moore said.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage and had a vague description of the suspect, but police do not intend to release any more details to "protect the integrity of the investigation," Newton said.
To help families care for their children on short notice, Paris Gibson Education Center provided day care, according to the Great Falls Public Schools website.
Police searched and cleared that building of threats before it could be used as a "safe haven," Moore said. About a dozen children utilized the day care, he said.
When asked if there's any threat to public safety, police urged caution. People should be aware of their surroundings at all times, Lt. Doug Otto said. Though police found no credible threat to schools, police take all threats seriously, he said.
Moore also issued a warning to anyone looking to threaten Great Falls schools: "Great Falls Pubic Schools and Great Falls Police Department will act swiftly and decisively to protect our students, our staff, community and property. Once we’ve identified the sources of those threats, well hold those responsible accountable to the very fullest extent possible by law."
Police encouraged anyone with questions about school closures to contact schools directly.
Shortly after 8 a.m. a second post was published on the GFPD Facebook page reiterating that all schools were closed and asking people to stop calling the dispatch center for information.
"We will release information here and via the media outlets as it is available. The dispatch center should be used for legitimate medical, fire and police issues and emergencies," the post says.
Great Falls Public Schools students will not need to make up the lost day of instruction, Moore said. Montana schools provide a built-in emergency day their school calendars to offset any canceled class days called by the school district.