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Bomb threat, ransom demand cancel first day for Utah school

Published August 19, 2014 7:07 am

Nothing found • Bomb squad, dogs, sweep school room-by-room.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bomb threat, accompanied by a $10 million cash ransom demand, canceled classes Tuesday on what was supposed to be the first day of the new school year for Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs.

A caller at about 2:55 a.m. claimed that multiple bombs had been planted at the school, at 99 N. Thunder Blvd. (200 West) and threatened "an armed response" if his ransom was not paid, said Saratoga Springs police spokesman Owen Jackson.

"Law enforcement and school and school district officials felt it was best to cancel school today, given safety concerns and the nature of the threat," Jackson said.

Members of Utah County Sheriff's bomb squad, aided by bomb-sniffing dogs, swept the school's buildings room by room, said sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

No explosives were found and Jackson did not discuss any suspects or leads, saying the threat remained "under investigation" Tuesday night.

Dispatchers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. reported that the caller made the threat to them by mistake before calling Utah County to lodge the threat in the correct location, Jackson said.

Classes will begin Wednesday, according to a message on the high school's website. Alpine School District first alerted students of Tuesday's cancellation with a Tweet about 6:40 a.m. noting the campus, which serves more than 2,200 students and 90 faculty members, had been locked down. Staff were allowed to return to the school about 8:30 a.m.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims