- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Montgomery County officials yesterday heightened security at 13 schools in Germantown and two in Gaithersburg after a student falsely reported that he had been approached by someone brandishing a weapon.

County police said that the student initially claimed to be waiting for a bus to Kingsview Middle School in Germantown at about 7:30 a.m. when a person with a weapon approached and made a threat about schools.

The student told the bus driver about the incident and the driver radioed school officials, who notified police, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said.

Miss Baur said that the student later admitted that he made up the story while he was being re-interviewed after classes ended yesterday.

“He recanted the story or the description of the incident,” Miss Baur said. “So there was not a man with a weapon who posed a threat to schools and students.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Culpeper County, Va., yesterday arrested a 25-year-old man in connection with a bomb threat that closed schools and day-care centers in the county for one day last week.

Mark J. Robinson, 25, of Culpeper, Va., has been charged with four felony counts of making bomb threats, two felony counts of threatening to kill or injure by phone, and one misdemeanor count of using obscene or vulgar language over the telephone.

“It’s definitely a relief to know we have someone under arrest and can take a breather for a few moments and get back to it,” said Lt. Patrick Coffey, a spokesman for the Culpeper Police Department.

Police arrested Mr. Robinson after serving two search warrants for an investigation into threats made against the Culpeper Police Department and a Best Western Motel in Culpeper, as well as the schools bomb threat.

Officers searched and seized computer equipment from Mr. Robinson’s home and from the apartment of Justin Brown, 19. Police said that Mr. Brown was interviewed about the threats and was not arrested, but that he is still a suspect in the case.

In Montgomery County, Miss Baur said that police do not know why the student fabricated the story and have not determined whether charges will be filed against him.

School officials said that they had not yet determined if the student will be disciplined.

The story prompted police to recommend that 13 schools in Germantown be placed on a Code Blue security alert — meaning all students and staff at the schools had to be accounted for and entrances to the school were monitored and secured.

School officials also opted to lock the buildings’ exterior doors.

Orange cones and marked police cruisers were placed at the schools’ entrances, and streets normally crowded around lunchtime near some schools were comparatively quiet.

“We’re absolutely relieved that there was no real threat. At the same time, we did maintain a safe environment all day with our students,” schools spokesman Brian Edwards said. “Any time there is a question of this nature you have to take it seriously and treat it as real.”

Officials temporarily placed two schools in Gaithersburg on Code Blue after city police said they had seen a person in the area matching the description of the person with the weapon.

However, Gaithersburg police spokesman Cpl. Rudy Wagner said that the person was a man suspected of fourth-degree burglary who had escaped from officers but was not the same person wanted for the threat.

County police yesterday also arrested a 15-year-old boy from Olney who phoned in a false bomb threat to Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring.

The school was evacuated and searched, but students returned to classes at about 10 a.m.

• Matthew Cella contributed to this report.

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