6:18 p.m. update - David Butts, Counsel for Calvin Ellis and Kelly D. Stimpson, Counsel for Tupelo Public School District have released the following statement ...
"In light of today's events and in the interest of the safety of the students of the Tupelo Public School District, Mr. Calvin Ellis and the Tupelo Public School District Administration jointly issue this statement for calm and for responsible action by all who have an interest in this matter.
Unfortunate actions carried out by misguided unknown persons have disrupted school operations. All parties involved urge everyone who is interested in the matter to remain calm, to act responsibly in accord with the law, and to allow the administrative process to proceed to completion. All parties are interested in a responsible process that respects the rights of all involved."
5:12 p.m. update - The following statement was posted on the TPSD website ...
Dear TPSD Staff and Parents,
As you may already know, a bomb threat was reported to Tupelo High School early this morning. It saddens me to have to write this communication to you, yet I am also humbled and honored at the cooperation of so many in our community to mobilize swiftly in the name of safety during a difficult situation. All responded with a “can do” attitude---the “Tupelo Spirit” was alive and well:
· THS administration, teachers, staff, and students, ---for managing a smooth evacuation throughout the morning
· Harrisburg Baptist Church--- for readily receiving our students and staff
· TPSD bus drivers--- for safely transporting our students throughout the day
· Parents--- for their patience as decisions were being made and for responding so quickly to pick up their children
· The City of Tupelo, Tupelo Police Department, and the FBI---for restoring safety on the campus and for launching the investigation
Any threat against the safety of our students and staff has to be taken seriously, and the evacuation of students and staff was warranted and directed by local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Regrettably, in response to this threat, a day of teaching and learning was lost resulting in a grave disservice to our students. To restore the safety to our campus, Tupelo Police Department Bomb Squad, FBI, and a K-9 Unit from Grenada and Meridian were all present to conduct the investigation. Although we are extremely grateful for their quick action and mobilization, this bomb threat has resulted in an emotional cost to our school community.
I would like to personally thank Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., and join him in respectfully calling upon all of the adults and youth in our community “to take a step back” and recognize the impact of our actions.
While I too acknowledge how emotionally charged personnel issues can become, this situation has escalated to a dangerous level; and we all need to remember that the safety and well-being of the children in our community must always be our top priority.
2:15 p.m. update - According to a Tupelo school official the bomb note threat including a line that said you have disrupted our world we will cause damage to yours and was signed Team Ellis.
12:52 p.m update: Tupelo Police have cleared the high school and say no bomb was found.
12:40 p.m. update:
The city sent out the following press release to media outlets at 12:37 p.m.:
Tupelo, Mississippi - Regarding the bomb threat at Tupelo High School this morning, the City of Tupelo wants to alert parents and citizens that the Tupelo Police Department responded immediately to ensure the safety of THS students and staff.
In a bomb threat situation, the Tupelo Public School District defers comments on the specifics of the bomb threat to the City of Tupelo and City of Tupelo Police Department.
Tupelo Police Department Chief Tony Carleton, “We were notified by the school about a note that was left saying a bomb would go off today. We worked in conjunction with the school, and felt it was best to evacuate the school. The bomb squad responded immediately to the situation, and our EOD unit is still on the scene searching for any explosive devices on campus. We are vigorously working through this investigation because we realize how a situation like this can cause a lot of disruption in the school system and frightens the community. Currently an investigation is ongoing regarding the note and the threat.”
Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., “Public safety is the city’s primary responsibility. The safety of our youth and children is our highest priority. I am calling on all of the adults and youth in our community to take a step back; to take a deep breath, and remind ourselves of the repercussions of our actions, regardless of how emotional we may feel about a school personnel hearing. Signing and sending a bomb threat on behalf of a group is a crime. Certainly no law-abiding citizen approves of this behavior.”
The City of Tupelo has been in constant contact with the Tupelo Public School District. TPSD Deputy Superintendent, Diana Ezell said, “Thank you to the Tupelo Police Department, especially Chief Carleton, Major Hill, and Lt. Morgan for their quick response. Everyone was pulling together to keep our kids safe and evacuate our campus. We understand that this was a major disruption for all involved, but the safety of our students and staff was the number one priority and we appreciate the parents as they came to pick up children and help this process run as smoothly as possible. Our teachers and counselors did a wonderful job working with the students. A special thank you to our administrators and staff for fielding phone calls from concerned parents.”
As of right now, the Tupelo Police Department will continue with this investigation and asks the community to help with this process by providing any and all information regarding this crime. If you want to give this information anonymously, please call Northeast MS Crime Stoppers at 1-800-773-TIPS.
Tupelo Deputy superintendent Diana Ezell said school was canceled because the campus is so large and the search would take such a long period of time. Dogs began searching the campus around 10:30 a.m.
Parents can pick up students at Harrisburg Baptist Church, where students were evacuated to this morning. Arrangements are being made for buses to run and take students home.
Students who have cars on campus can not return at this time until authorities give an all clear about bomb threat.
All other Tupelo Public Schools are open and running on regular schedules.
Officials have not released any information on the bomb threat at this time.
No decision has been made about if tonight's basketball games at the school will be played.
All students, faculty and staff at Tupelo High School are safe, according to officals.
More on this story as it is available.