Horry County school officials hope end is in sight for bomb threats

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. - Eight bomb threats involving three schools have led to four arrests in Horry County in the past few weeks. The latest incident led to the evacuation of Myrtle Beach High School Thursday afternoon. School officials say each threat must be taken seriously and they are ready for this string of incidents to end.

The bomb threats began at St. James High School November 30 with writing on a bathroom wall. That led to several more threats and evacuations. This week, there have been two threats in two days at Myrtle Beach High School. Students were evacuated to the gym of Myrtle Beach Middle School. Plus, an 11-year-old at Black Water Middle School faces charges for saying there was a bomb on a bus. All the threats turned out to be false alarms.

"It's very alarming, it's disturbing to know that these threats are continuing to happen at such a rapid rate," says Sheila Singletary. Her daughter attends Myrtle Beach Middle and attends activities at the Myrtle Beach High.

"I would like this to go away," adds Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Elsberry. "Just having to drop everything leave the building it's just very disconcerting. Teachers have to do extra work because they have to account for every student they evacuate so yes it's frustrating."

With each threat comes the loss of instructional time and a criminal investigation. Dr. Elsberry says that's where parent involvement can help school officials.

"I would hope that they would pull those pictures out of those students that were arrested and say this is what could happen, this is not a game, you can't play around, you can't say things that you don't really mean. Because even if it's not a joke even if you mean it in a joking way it will be taken seriously by the school district. Here's evidence that it is and warn their children that this is not something to play around with.

Singletary is already having those discussions with her daughter.

"She's concerned as well as I and we both concur that the first thing to do if that information should become available to her she should share it with her teachers and the authorities at the school," explains Singletary. "I think the school is doing a very good job of trying to monitor and just maintain and conduct their policies and protect the children and keep them in safe surroundings."

"We'll continue to fine tune our process to make sure that we do actually have a threat but we don't have a choice. If the threat comes we have to react and we have to provide safety for our children," says Dr. Elsberry.

She adds Horry County school officials will not become complacent.