An unfounded bomb threat led to the evacuation of Bigfork High School Monday morning. Students returned to class about an hour and a half after school officials received the threat.
The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office says school officials received a short, non-detailed message around 7:30 a.m. alleging there was a bomb in Bigfork High School.
Sheriff Brian Heino.
“School officials evacuated that building and had the students in their other facility. Law enforcement arrived on scene. We did a quick perimeter and then did a quick check of the school along with school officials, and had everybody back in the school by about 9 o'clock this morning.”
This is the third widely-covered threat or report of a potentially violent incident in Montana schools this year, though it’s unknown just how many incidents happen statewide.
Montana doesn’t track that data, but according to a biannual voluntary survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, there were 11 reported incidents of a firearm found in Montana schools and 639 reported threats during the 2015-2016 school year.
Dylan Klapmeier with the Montana Office of Public Instruction says stats on student mental health from a national survey youth behavior is more helpful when it comes to preventing incidents like Monday’s bomb threat in Bigfork.
"When there are incidents of violence at schools, it usually is related to some sort of mental illness or bullying that the student is struggling with."
According to the national youth behavior risk survey, the number of students in Montana reporting feeling hopeless and seriously considering suicide have both increased by 9 and 6 percent over the past decade. The number of actual reported suicide attempts by Montana students has seen a minor increase at 1 percent.
Flathead Sheriff Brian Heno says it’s unknown if it was a student who called in the bomb threat and an investigation is ongoing.
"Our investigative division is still working on backtracking who made the phone call, and is conducting some of those interviews and investigations as we speak."
MTPR reached out to Bigfork School District Superintendent Matt Jenson, but did not receive a call back in time for this story.