Nelson Co. Cracking Down on Bomb Threats

Nelson Co., VA - A warning for high school students in Nelson County: the sheriff's office says it's cracking down on bomb threats next school year.

Investigators say they've received four such threats in the last two years, an increase over years past.

The sheriff's office says bomb threats are more than an inconvenience, they are felonies that carry up to 10 years in prison.

According to the department of justice, 90% of bomb threats are pranks, but the lengths the Nelson County sheriff's office will go to stop them is no laughing matter.

"The threats that involve writing on the walls are basically obtaining handwriting samples from everyone that's suspected and submitting that evidence to the state forensic lab," said Investigator Billy Mays.

Mays says they just got the results back from a bomb threat back in January. It was the fourth bomb threat at Nelson County high school in the last two years.

"It's a serious offense for someone who's just beginning their life and getting their life started," Mays said.

There are no national statistics on the number of bomb threats at schools each year, but investigators say evacuating a school for just a few hours can put a serious drain on first responders.

"Primarily in Nelson County, the fire and rescue personnel are all volunteer organizations," Mays said. "So, they're missing work, time at work, which means they're not getting paid."

"Classes get canceled, which the school has to make that up. And on one of the threats that we had last year, several students got really bad sunburns," Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin said.

The Commonwealth's attorney says prosecuting the bomb threat cases comes down to protecting students, especially at a time when their safety seems less certain.

"Schools can't dismiss things like they used to as a simple prank," said Martin.

Two of the four bomb threats in Nelson County are solved, the others have charges pending.