Two Arrests in Henley Bomb Threat Case

CylinderCounty police issued a press release this afternoon (below) announcing the arrest of two Henley Middle School students in the bomb threat at Henley on Tuesday. Each has been charged with “constructing and/or placing a hoax explosive device,” and one has been charged with “threats to bomb or damage buildings.” With the press release came a screen capture from video taken of the cylinders that raised concern. The one pictured here was taped to a pole in front of Brownsville Elementary. Two other “round cylinders” (do they make ’em any other way?) were found on the roof of Henley and one on the corner of the building. The identity of the two kids isn’t being released, but it’ll be on MySpace within the hour, no doubt.


Albemarle County Police and Fire Marshals have arrested two Henley Middle School youths on multiple felony charges relating to Tuesday morning’s incident at Henley Middle and Brownsville Elementary Schools.

Both juveniles are under 14 years of age. Due to their age, no other identifying information can be released. They have each been charged with the below listed offenses:

Four felony charges of Constructing and/or placing a Hoax Explosive Device.

One of the juveniles is also being charged with two misdemeanor counts of Threats to Bomb or Damage Buildings. One of these charges relates to the March 20th threat incident at Henley Middle School.

Any further information about their legal status cannot be released.

All of the following information is being released to educate the community and to help them understand the seriousness of this incident and why it warranted the level of response that occurred from both public safety agencies and the School Division. Every bomb threat is a serious incident with serious consequences to everyone involved.

Attached is a picture of one of the items found at the schools. The picture is a round cylinder found taped to a pole in front of Brownsville ES. There were also two other round cylinders found at the northwest corner and on the roof of Henley Middle School.

In summary, there were three hoax devices found at Henley Middle School as well as one hoax device at Brownsville ES. There was also a written threat in a note at Henley MS.

Police Chief John Miller credited the involvement of the community with providing leads that assisted detectives in quickly making the arrests. “Due to the cooperative efforts of the community, schools and commonwealth attorney’s office together with the Police Department, the threat was immediately recognized and the investigation was resolved quickly and successfully” said Miller. ” We have done and continue to do everything that we can do to ensure the safety of our schools, students and community.”

“We share in the community’s frustration when these events occur and I’m pleased the Police Department brought this investigation to closure so quickly with the cooperation of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. By working cooperatively, we were able to very quickly get our schools back to our important daily work of teaching and learning,” said Dr. Pamela Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools.

This investigation is still ongoing . Any further questions concerning this incident or these arrests should be directed to the Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. If anyone has information about this case, they are asked to contact the Albemarle County Police Department at 296-5807.

22 thoughts on “Two Arrests in Henley Bomb Threat Case”

  1. Good move on the police’s part, releasing the image of the cylinders. Nothing about that says “bomb” to me, but I didn’t just show up to find it taped to a lamppost in front of my place of employment.

    The lesson from the Boston embarrassment a couple of months ago (the “hoax explosive devices” that were neither hoax nor explosive, just the police not knowing the difference between LED throwies and an explosive device) is that the fact that somebody believes that something is a bomb does not mean that there was intention by its creator that it look like a bomb. Intent must be established.

  2. CBS 19 has more photos on their site. While it’s hard to imagine this really turning into something dangerous, I can see why officials felt concerned enough to close the schools until they got more info.

  3. I’d be surprised if intent was difficult to determine here. What are the other candidates? Bring your cylinder to school day? A stealth cylinder marketing campaign? Cylinder-rights awareness? Or just another fund-raising campaign for new band uniforms (insert quarter in cylinder)?

  4. *Laugh*

    Jaded wins the thread. :)

    I just saw the photos on CBS 19’s site and, I’ve got to say, the note with the anarchy symbol attached to the front door of the school is pretty damning. Any question of intent would have to be jettisoned once that went up.

  5. Looking forward to seeing the difference in Camblos’ reaction to this (seemingly) credible threat and the previous BS at AHS and Jouett.

  6. It appears that the Hook already knows the names of the kids, although they’re not releasing them. And surprise surprise, the kids do have myspace pages that already have misspelled comments from people defending them. I’m guessing that pretty much every Henley student knows who did it by now.

  7. The big issue here is the fact that there was some sort of note left making a threat. We haven’t seen what that note said yet. But assuming that it was in fact an actual threat to bomb the premises and that the note was left by the students who taped up the cylinders then this is in fact an actual criminal act.

    I supposed that one could take these cylinders for pipe bombs. If there was no note then they might have a good defense that they were just being a bunch of weird little kids and taping cylinders to things. But there was a note and thus the intent to threaten is presumably clear.

    That said, these are 13 year old middle school kids and I hope they go easy on them. I won’t name any names, but I happen to know a guy who did something very similar at his middle school about 20 years ago in a neighboring county. He was caught in the act by a police officer. The kid was expelled for a while but not sent to prison. He grew up to become an english teacher at a nearby private school with a wife and a family and he is a perfectly productive and honest citizen. As good a guy now as you could hope to meet.

    My point being that even if they are guilty, kids at this age can do all sorts of stupid crap and still turn out all right if we don’t throw them into jail where they’d learn how to be real criminals. I’m not saying ‘don’t take this stuff seriously and don’t punish them.’ Just don’t go overboard such that we prevent them from turning into good citizens,

  8. Jack makes a great point. This prank had real costs associated with it: it cost the county money to respond to it (and as a parent it sounds to me like they responded appropriately). It cost schooling time. It costs parents from the two schools all kinds of time and money and hassle to get back home or to school to pick up the kids. It wasn’t a harmless little prank.

    And yet, a punishment that pretty much guaranteed that these kids ended up worse than before (i.e., pretty much any of our usual incarceratory options) doesn’t improve the situation. As a nation, we suck at dealing with juvenile offenders.

    I’m up in the air about how to address the parents’ role in all this: I do believe that you have to have screwed something up in order to have kids who think it’s a good idea to send bomb threats to a school and to tape up bomb-like packages in prominent places on school property. But I don’t know what the solution to that parental problem is, either…

  9. It would be terrible to see these kids go to prison, or spend any time at all in jail, assuming that they have no history of violating the law. That could very well destroy their lives in a very meaningful way. But it would also be terrible to let them get away unpunished.

  10. The first thing my Henley Middle School student said when he saw the photos was that they spray painted to cover up their fingerprints. Hmmm… these kids obviously put some thought in to this.
    That said, they are still kids and as of now, have ruined their lives for the foreseeable future. As the parent of a 13 year old student in honors classes, I can say that it appears that kids begin to lose common sense brain cells no matter what their IQ about age 11 and I’ll let you know when they start regenerating.

    I’m torn as to the appropriate and necessary punishment for these kids, because as pointed out in earlier comments, they are still kids, yet need to face the consequences of their actions. I felt all along that this was done by who ever made the threat last week and did not get the media coverage they obviously craved.

    By the way, Kudos to school staff from all 3 affected schools for their great handling of everything.

  11. It’s a conundrum. I’m with dkachur in being curious to see how Camblos will handle this. He’s gotta know how precarious his re-election is, so one would think he’d do the politically smart thing here. Question is: What is it?

  12. I think a couple of hundred hours of community service would probably be a pretty good punishment for both the kids and their parents. Their weekends and vacations for the next year or 2 would be shot while the parents would have to deal with getting the kids to and from community service assignments the whole time. That and having dealt with the whole scary process of getting arrested and booked will probably straighten them right out.

    If I was the prosecutor, that is the deal I’d offer them. They plea ‘guilty’ as juveniles, serve 200 hours of community service and the offense is removed from their records on turning 21 assuming that they are not found guilty of any other crime.

    As a constituent, I do not feel the need to be protected from thesee kids and I do not see it as being in my best interest (or that of the rest of the public) for them to be put in prison. Fines would only punish the family and probably cut into the money they’ll need for private school since there can be little doubt that they will be expelled. It is in our best interest for all of the suspects to receive educations and stay out of jail. I want the penalties to be aimed at making them into useful citizens rather than the sorts of people who would be likely to be a burden to us.

  13. Good move on the police’s part, releasing the image of the cylinders. Nothing about that says “bomb” to me, but I didn’t just show up to find it taped to a lamppost in front of my place of employment.

    Then perhaps you should compare it to some of the images of pipe bombs that CNN has on their website. Perhaps you will begin to see the similarities.

  14. I might feel a bit more sympathetic if the ‘apology’ printed in today’s Daily Progress actually came from the mouth of the arrested young student. I’ll never believe the grammar and word choice are those of someone under 14.

  15. Yeah, I was going to write something about that apology, but it was clearly written by the attorney. The idea of apologizing is an excellent one, but it’s best to actually do it, rather than have the attorney do it.

  16. At least have something that appears to be a sentence or two from the student included in the official statement. The lawyer’s statement does nothing of which it’s intended.

  17. Interesting comments so far. I always feel a little perplexed with some writers, especially those who like to lightly attribute danger from youngsters who make threats against schools. One could reflect on the many school incident which captured the nations’ media over the last dozen years and come to a different understanding. Serious incidents. Many deaths and wounded. Many lives changed forever.

    As a former teacher, I can assure you that kids get very angry at teachers and fellow students over a variety of situations. Sometimes a particular youngster will act out with a threat and sometimes it is by doing a bad deed. Many times they do nothing.

    Almost to the day, nine years ago in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two Middle School students killed 4 fellow students and a teacher, by causing a false fire alarm to be sounded and then started shooting at them as the occupants followed proper procedure and left the school building. Do a search on School Shootings. An unpleasant result shows up. This one is especially compelling.

    Jonesboro is a typical college city. About the size of Charlottesville.

    It is no wonder that the police respond to these events with great caution and uncertainty.

    A few years after leaving a former Missouri school, a high school student came to the very room I had taught in and told the teacher that a certain student was wanted by a Counselor. When the student walked out of the room (open courtyard), the requesting student shot and killed the boy. A boy who had possibly done a lot of teasing towards the shooter over a long period of time.

    I am glad the police and authorities take serious all threats. Punishment. Well, that can be a tricky issue. I had a relative about my age who was among four kids who tossed an street smudge pot through our school’s window at night. It was not lit, but had it been the consequences could have been bad. They were caught and punished by the school only and my relative went on to become a good lawyer. It doesn’t always work that way.

    Once a student of mine in Charlottesville was called down for a rather simple discipline issue. Within a couple of days, he was caught with a pistol in his gym locker. Connection? I don’t know.

  18. Toss those freakazoid kids out of public school for life, anyone with a brain can see what the intent was. A bomb can look like anything, just ask anyone who has been to Iraq. Have their parents foot the bill for private school. Maybe then they will take an interest in what their loser children are doing in their free time. Klebold and Harris had similar parenting. I am sure Camblos will base his decision on who the parents are and how connected they are as usual. Those parents should foot the bill for every parent who had to take off work to pick up their kids, and the cost for the police and EMS services that day. Albemarle County sure has its share of wierdo misunderstood kids…..I guess the parents are too busy working to pay for those “MacMansions” to monitor what their children are doing.

  19. It is remarkable to me how people can be so limited to their upbringing, even in this day and age of prevalent information and travel. This is the very reason things are not getting any better regarding this issue. Sure, there’s an immediacy to respond to this particular situation, but where are the real debates regarding the causes of these and other similar events? The very foundations of our civilization are telling us something here… but it is un-American, it seems today, to try to understand “deeper” causes. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other in 4 decades. Who thinks we’ll land somewhere more balanced in the near future? Not me!

  20. A.R. Byrd seems to have been reading some other blog if s/he’s perplexed by writers “who like to lightly attribute [sic] danger from youngsters who make threats against schools.” I don’t know who here is taking it lightly. Folks here seem to think this incident was not trivial at all and deserves a meaningful response. Folks here seem also to think that jail/detention is not a meaningful response and would actually be counterproductive. And I haven’t heard anyone say he or she thought the police response was inappropriate.

    I would also point out that the “many school incident[s}” to which Byrd refers are, while quite scary, statistically extraordinarily uncommon. Media attention to these spectacles leaves many people feeling like they are in fact a looming and ever-present likelihood, which they are not. Is one Columbine too many? Yes, of course it is. But focusing on dubious measures to prevent an event that is extraordinarily rare in the first place distracts our attention from issues that are actually much more likely to bring grief to a community (like, for example, treating first-time juvenile offenders as adults).

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