WOONSOCKET – The police announced three arrests this morning in a string of bomb threats that have disrupted classes at Woonsocket High School on four out of the last eight school days.
During an impromptu press briefing outside WHS, Detective Jamie Paone told reporters that Khalil Oliver, 18, and two juveniles, one girl and one boy who are 16 or younger, were responsible for the incidents. All students at WHS, the three are facing one count each of making a bomb threat in a public building and conspiracy, both felonies. More arrests could come before the end of the day, she said.
The arrests were disclosed after police and school officials informed the student body during a series of assemblies, closed to the press, which were held in the school auditorium throughout the morning. Police said they identified the alleged culprits mainly as a result of tips generated by high school students and the gatherings were called to commend them for their help.
“It was a thank you,” said Detective Sgt. Matt Ryan of the police department’s juvenile bureau. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the kids in that school didn’t do anything wrong. After four incidents, they said enough is enough and they figured it’s time to do the right thing, and they need to be commended for it.”
Police evacuated the school and searched the building following each bomb threat, but never found anything suspicious. Police said the threats were little more than pranks intended to disrupt classes, albeit very costly ones. Paone said the cost of the public safety response was immense, including a one-day tab in excess of $100,000 when the state Bomb Squad was called in.
Police Chief Tom Carey, Schools Supt. Giovanna Donoyan and Detective Peter Menard also took part in the student assemblies and press briefing. Although three individuals are already in custody, Carey urged anyone with information about the incidents to contact Menard or Paone, the lead investigators. They can be reached at 766-1212 or information can be left anonymously on the tip-line, 769-4444.
“We can never have too much information,” he said. “We want as much information was we can get so we can make an effective case for the prosecution.”
The state Fire Marshals Office offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of suspects in the case. Police say it will be up to the fire marshal to determine whether anyone deserves a reward in this case and, if so, how much.