The Copperas Cove ISD announced Wednesday it is cancelling classes at all of its schools through the end of the week after a series of nine bomb threats, in connection with which police have now arrested eight juveniles.
Schools will reopen Monday, the district said.
"The district is reviewing emergency procedures and strengthening them before students are allowed on campuses," Cove Superintendent Dr. Joe Burns said.
"We're doing everything in our power to provide a safe environment."
Burns also said the district wants to give police a chance to complete their investigation “without more threats thwarting those efforts,” according to a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.
On its Facebook page, the district said parents or students who need to retrieve personal items left at schools because of evacuations may call on Thursday to arrange to have them picked up.
The move to close schools for the rest of the week comes after district officials announced just after 10 p.m. Tuesday that classes were canceled for the day Wednesday in all Cove schools.
The decision to close schools Wednesday was made after the district received the ninth threat Tuesday night, the third of the day.
Just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday a threat was reported at Copperas Cove High School and 20 minutes later a second was reported at S. C. Lee Junior High School in connection with which a 14-year-old girl was arrested and charged with terroristic threat.
Then at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday the ninth threat was reported at Copperas Cove Junior High School.
Meanwhile Tuesday afternoon police arrested a 13-year-old boy in connection with a threat on Dec. 7 at S. C. Lee Junior High. He was charged with terroristic threat.
Authorities have now made eight arrests in connection with earlier threats and the reward for information leading to arrests and prosecutions has been increased to $3,000.
District officials say they plan to sue to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars the threats have cost in direct expenses and lost instructional time.
“Each of these incidents costs about $22,000,” Copperas Cove Superintendent told more than 250 parents and residents during a public meeting on the threats Monday night.
"When they prosecute and convict people for this we do intend to sue,” he said.
School officials encouraged parents to supervise children and encourage them to speak up if they see something suspicious.
They acknowledged that police are currently investigating a threat that was found on Facebook that Copperas Cove High School will be “shot up and bombed” on Dec. 21, and said that while no truth has been found to the rumor, the district and police are making plans to heighten security on that day.
The meeting Monday came after more arrests were made in connection with the series of six bomb threats at three Cove schools.
Two were arrested on Friday and four more were taken into custody on Monday, police said.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested Monday and charged with terroristic threat in connection with the bomb threat at Copperas Cove Junior High School, which was evacuated Monday morning.
The boy was later released to his parents pending a hearing, police said.
It was the third bomb threat at the school in less than a week.
Parents were notified that students were being dismissed at 10 a.m. and that classes were canceled for the remainder of the day.
And police arrested three boys, ages 13, 14, and 15, Monday in connection with a bomb threat Friday at S. C. Lee Junior High School.
The teenagers were all charged with terroristic threat and were taken to the Bell County Juvenile Detention Facility pending a hearing.
Earlier Monday Copperas Cove police announced that two juveniles, one 13 and one 16, were in custody in the Bell County Juvenile Detention Facility in connection with the threats.
The 16-year-old was detained in connection with a threat Friday at Copperas Cove High School and was charged with terroristic threat.
The 13-year-old was detained in connection with the threat Friday at S. C. Lee Junior High School and was also charged with terroristic threat.
The first threat was found on Dec. 4, written on a wall in a restroom at Copperas Cove Junior High.
A student found the threat on the restroom wall in the 200 wing of the building following dismissal of classes.
The district didn’t disclose the full content of the message, but said it indicated there would be a bomb in the school on Dec. 5.
Officers and a police K-9 unit searched the school until around 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 4, found no evidence of any threatening device and cleared the building for classes Dec. 5, although security was tightened.
On Dec. 5 Copperas Cove High School students were released at 11:30 a.m. after the discovery of a bomb threat written on a bathroom wall that led to the evacuation of the building.
Officials described the threat as non-specific.
A police K-9 unit was brought in to help search the school.
Copperas Cove Junior High School was evacuated last Thursday morning after a written bomb threat was discovered on the wall of a girl’s restroom.
Students were taken to Bulldawg Stadium while five bomb-sniffing dogs from Fort Hood swept the building
Classes resumed at around 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
Copperas Cove High School was evacuated again Friday afternoon because of a bomb threat, but classes later resumed, and a threat was also reported at S.C. Lee Junior High.
No explosives were found in any of the incidents.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the incidents to call Copperas Cove Crime Stoppers at (254) 547-1111.
Tips may also be submitted online.
The reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution the threats was increased last to $3,000.