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'Suspicious package' evacuates Spanish Fork charter school

Published April 29, 2013 12:26 pm

Public safety • About 1,600 students, staff cleared from campus after backpack wrapped in duct tape found.
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Discovery of a suspicious package prompted evacuation of a charter school campus in Spanish Fork on Monday morning.

Spanish Fork police Lt. Matt Johnson said Monday evening that the package in question was a backpack that was covered in duct tape and had a calculator, book and some deodorant inside.

Spanish Fork police and firefighters and Utah County sheriff's deputies rushed to the scene. The backpack had was loaded by a sheriff's bomb squad robot into a "bomb bucket," Johnson said.

Police took the backpack to a bombing range and used an X-ray to discover some electrical equipment inside. It wasn't until the package was destroyed that the more benign materials inside were discovered.

Spanish Fork police dispatchers confirmed that the staff and hundreds of students had been cleared from the American Leadership Academy grounds at 898 W. 1100 South about 9:30 a.m. All three buildings at the location — elementary, middle and high schools — were emptied of approximately 1,600 students and staff.

The students were taken to the nearby sports park, where they were released to their parents for the day.

Johnson said a teacher noticed an abandoned backpack near an entrance door of the middle school about 9:20 a.m. The school's principal ordered the evacuation soon thereafter.

Johnson said the backpack was found in an area near some surveillance cameras, and police are examining the cameras' footage to see if they can find who placed the package. Johnson said it wasn't clear whether the package was made to look like a dangerous device.

"At this point, we don't know if it was made to disrupt the activities of the school or if it was an accident," he said.