Teen admits to bomb threat at Mount Carmel Area
MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP - A 17-year-old female student at Mount Carmel Area High School, who wanted a day off school and didn't believe police would catch her, has been charged with making three bomb threats Tuesday morning to the school district, which forced the evacuation of approximately 1,800 students, teachers and staff.
Crystal Nicole Clark, of 106 N. Beech St., Mount Carmel, was taken into custody at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, one day after she allegedly made three phone calls within a four-minute period stating, "There is a bomb in the school. Don't let nobody in the school."
Clever and alert action by police led to the quick arrest.
Clark, a freshman who moved to Mount Carmel with her family about five months ago from Baltimore, is charged in a juvenile petition by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr. with two felony counts of threats to use weapons of mass destruction, felonies of terroristic threats and causing or risking a catastrophe, and
misdemeanors of false alarms to public safety agencies, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.
After admitting to making the bomb threats during a 90-minute interview with police Wednesday afternoon, Clark was turned over to Northumberland County juvenile probation officers and committed to a juvenile facility in Lycoming County, according to Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush.
Clark told police she has no prior criminal record.
In an affidavit of probable cause, Clark told police she made three calls because the first two were not answered. Police said the first call was made to the high school guidance office at 6:56 a.m. and lasted 1 minute, 26 seconds. The second call was made to the high school principal's office at 6:58 a.m. and lasted 1 minute, 58 seconds. The third call was made to the district administration office at 7 a.m. and lasted 1 minute, 10 seconds.
Police said the third call connected for 12 seconds in which Clark told a school official, "The school is going to blow up today. I swear anyone in the school is to be blown up."
Clark told police she attempted to disguise her voice to sound like a male.
Stamets said Clark made the phone calls from her house. The officer said, "She claimed she wanted a day off school and that police would never catch her because she used a track phone."
After receiving the threat, school district officials notified Mount Carmel Township police, who relayed a message to the Northumberland County Communications Center to contact numerous other law enforcement agencies for assistance.
An evacuation plan was then established that led to elementary and high school students, faculty and staff being transported by bus about four blocks to the Silver Bowl football stadium on West Third Street.
Three state police bomb detection K-9 units from Trevose, Allentown and Hershey, and a bomb detection K-9 unit from the Union County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene. An extensive search of the school district property was conducted, but no improvised explosive devices or other explosives were discovered.
Also responding were approximately 10 Mount Carmel Township police officers, Mount Carmel and Kulpmont police, state police, Constable Patrick Reynolds, Northumberland County Emergency Management Agency officials, Mount Carmel Fire Police and AREA Services.
School was closed Tuesday as a result of the bomb threat. Students returned to classes Wednesday morning.
Tracking track phone
Following the search of the grounds, Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens completed an application for disclosure of records concerning electronic communicating services. The application was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Sunbury before Northumberland County President Judge Robert B. Sacavage via electronic video conferencing inside the superintendent's office at Mount Carmel Area High School.
Owens, who is state police-certified in wiretapping and electronic surveillance, was able to fax the application approved by Sacavage to Verizon Wireless at 6:25 p.m. Tuesday for information pertaining to the wireless numbers used in the commission of the bomb threats.
On Wednesday, police received a fax from Verizon Wireless showing a call history for wireless number (443)687-6362. The history showed (570)339-2708 and (570)590-5855 as frequent numbers called or calls received. The two numbers came back to a residence in Mount Carmel.
During an interview, the homeowners, who are acquainted with Clark, indicated the number in question belonged to a family at 106 N. Beech St., Mount Carmel.
Officers then questioned Clark's mother, Stacey Brogan, about her phone number. Brogan told police her number is (443)687-6362. When asked by police who had the phone between 6 and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Brogan said she and her daughter (Clark) are the only two who use the phone and that her daughter had the phone during that time.
Upon arriving home from school a short time later Wednesday, Clark and her mother were transported by police to Mount Carmel Police Station for questioning. After being advised of their Miranda rights, Brogan and Clark agreed to answer questions.
Clark initially told police another person possessed her phone and admitted making the bomb threats. But later in the interview, she admitted making the bomb threats.
Hollenbush, who said Clark is not a suspect in a bomb scare phoned into the district March 15, commended Stamets and Owens for conducting an "excellent investigation" that led to the quick arrest.
"Both men worked extensively on this since Tuesday morning and I am very grateful for their outstanding efforts," Hollenbush said."
Hollenbush also thanked school district officials, particularly Superintendent Bernard Stellar, for their cooperation throughout the ordeal.
Stellar said he was very glad police were able to apprehend the perpetrator quickly.
When reached Wednesday night, Stellar said, "The public needs to know how dangerous, costly and disruptive a situation like this is. We take it very seriously. Students, faculty, staff and emergency personnel are put at risk and that's a shame. I'm happy the person was brought to justice."