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St. George high school evacuated after backpack with explosives found

Posted at 2:11 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 21:06:07-05

ST. GEORGE, Utah - The St. George Police Department and Washington County School District evacuated a high school Monday afternoon after police said a student found a backpack with smoke coming out of it.

According to Captain Mike Giles with the St. George Police department, a student saw the suspicious backpack in one of the school's common areas around 12:30 p.m. Monday. The student told a teacher, who then alerted a school resource officer (SRO) about the incident.

Another school resource officer responded to the scene, who was also a member of St. George's regional bomb unit.

"Initially they evacuated that area, but as soon as they realized they were dealing with a larger issue, and more potential for injury or damage, the decision was made to contact the principal of the school and the SRO conducted an evacuation of the school with the principal," Capt. Giles said.

Students said they had just settled into class after lunch when they were told to walk out to the football field.

"They came on the intercom saying to go outside and evacuate to the field," said Pine View sophomore Gwendolyn Scott.

She said students had no idea what was happening.

"I was stressed and kind of nervous, because they wouldn't tell us anything," she said.

Senior Olivia Jones said rumors started to spread that police had found a smoking backpack.

"I was just really scared," she said. "Obviously this is serious if there's so many cops up there."

Jones said at one point, police came down to the field and approached a student standing right in front of her.

"They just grabbed him, and started bringing him up the stairs," she said. A photo shows police taking the student away. Police haven't confirmed if that person is connected to the incident, but they did say they found a person of interest.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident. On their website, the Washington County School District wrote that all of the school's students had been accounted for and were safe.

They said they allowed students to leave the school around 2:30 p.m.

In an update posted at 2:59 p.m. Monday afternoon, the school district wrote the following:

"We appreciate the cooperation of our parents as this situation took place today at PVHS. We also appreciate the quick and professional response of our local police and fire first responders."

The school district later said they expect school to resume as normal on Tuesday.