Two Alaska schools evacuated, attendance down at others as Columbine anniversary passes

Posted: Friday, April 21, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings was a busy time for Alaska school authorities, security guards, and police. At least two Alaska schools were evacuated, and some parents in Anchorage kept their children at home Thursday in fear of possible violence.

Sitka High School was evacuated for an hour and a half at midday Thursday after an anonymous caller made a threat and referred to the shootings a year ago at Colorado's Columbine High School.

Principal Steve Bradshaw immediately called 911, then set off the school's fire alarms to evacuate all 450 students about 11:30 a.m., School District Superintendent John Holst said. After a search by police and school officials, students returned to classes around 1 p.m.

In Fairbanks, Ben Eielson Junior-Senior High School was checked by bomb-sniffing dogs after one student told another on Wednesday that he was preparing a bomb to be detonated Thursday. Superintendent Jim Holt of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District said the number of copycat threats have decreased since last year, but the district still takes threats and jokes seriously.

In Anchorage, more than a third of the student body stayed away from Wendler Middle School, where rumors of violence surfaced last week and a couple of students appeared in trench coats, a symbol for the pair of students who shot up Columbine High, killing 13 other students and then themselves in Littleton, Colo.

East Anchorage High School had more than 200 absences, four times the normal number, and Service High School had 230 students out, about 100 more than normal, school officials told KTUU-TV. Dozens of officers monitored the schools to guard against problems on the anniversary.

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