SCHENECTADY Yates Elementary School was evacuated for two hours Monday morning while police checked into a bomb threat called in by what appeared to be a child.
Police said they doubted the threat was real, but they walked explosives-sniffing dogs through the building to make sure.
“It sounded like a young child on the phone,” said police spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing.
But the child used a cellphone and didn’t stay on the line long enough for police to track the call to an address. It was Sunday night, and police couldn’t get into Yates. So they searched outside for any sign of explosives.
Early Monday morning, as students were arriving, police notified the school district and school officials immediately evacuated the building.
Teachers organized their classes and walked their students down Van Vranken Avenue to St. Anthony’s Early Childhood Center. At the Catholic school, teachers moved their classes to create enough classrooms for all 367 Yates students.
“They all stayed with their teachers in classrooms,” school spokeswoman Karen Corona said. “They made enough room. The teachers taught as much as they could.”
St. Anthony’s is the emergency site for Yates.
Meanwhile, Schenectady police asked state police for help searching the large school. State police offered a dog trained to find explosives. Schenectady police have one, too, and the second dog allowed them to search the school in the half the time.
As they expected, they didn’t find anything, but they had to take the threat seriously.
“That child [who called] could have been of an age to go to that school,” Dearing said. “We take every call, every threat, no matter how believable we think it is, we take it very seriously.”
Corona said the school district evacuated for the same reason.
“Sure, it was disruptive, but ...” she said. “We’d rather be safe than sorry. We take every safety precaution that we can.”
Dearing said police are still searching for the caller.
“Our detectives are actively working to see if they can track the number,” he said, adding that they had tracked it to a particular cellphone carrier and had asked it for assistance.