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article imageSenior prank prompts evacuation, lands two behind bars

By Megan Hamilton     May 28, 2015 in Odd News
Troutman - A high school in North Carolina was evacuated Tuesday as the result of a senior prank which prompted a bomb search, police say.
Two students were arrested in connection with the incident.
The father of one of the students says his daughter told him about the prank to put alarm clocks in an unused locker and have them go off at different times, and he says he thinks the prank was harmless, reports.
"I was called by my younger daughter saying my older daughter was taken away by the cops," says Dan Farrell, whose daughter Shannon Farrell is a student at South Iredell High School, where the incident occurred.
Shannon Farrell.
Shannon Farrell.
Iredell County Sheriff's Office
Law enforcement, however, wasn't certain whether this was harmless and the school was evacuated Tuesday morning after the prank prompted a bomb search.
"We take this pretty seriously," Troutman Police Chief Matthew Selves said.
Shannon Farrell and Lekia Hall, both 18, face a felony charge of alleged hoax by use of a false bomb in a public building, and obstruction of justice.
Lekia Hall
Lekia Hall
Iredell County Sheriff's Office
Selves reported that the students cut zip-ties from the unoccupied lockers, put the alarm clocks inside and locked them with their own locks, The Huffington Post reports. Hearing the ticking inside, a school resource officer was worried and called for help.
This forced a mass response and 1,500 students and 200 faculty members were evacuated from the building.
Dan Farrell told the Statesville Record & Landmark he'd heard about the plans to bring the clocks to school a few days ago.
"I thought it was a pretty funny thing," he said.
Law enforcement officials didn't find it funny, Selves noted.
Since the ties on the locker had been cut and replaced with a lock, and, along with the ticking sounds, the situation was taken seriously. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the plans to pull the prank were broadcast via social media or emails in the past few days, but officials weren't alerted.
Students and faculty waited in the football stadium while law enforcement officers from Troutman, the N.C. Highway Patrol, and the Iredell County Sheriff's Office inundated the area. Iredell EMS and the Troutman Fire Department also responded.
Numerous resources were tied up for about two hours until a bomb-sniffing dog was brought out to conduct a sweep through the school and word of the planned prank finally began to make its way to law enforcement officials, Selves said. All of this could have been avoided, he added, if anyone who knew about the prank had alerted an official ahead of time.
Officials at Iredell-Statesville schools (I-SS) are still deciding how Farrell and Hall will be disciplined. School officials were waiting to speak with the families before making a decision on whether the students involved will be allowed to graduate, the Statesville Record & Landmark reported here.
"I can't speak on that, Richard Armstrong, assistant superintendent of operations for I-SS, said Wednesday. "That's a discussion we're still having."
Armstrong is a former high school principal and he said he's familiar with the whole senior prank concept and he doesn't believe there was any malicious intent by placing the alarm clocks in the lockers.
"I never thought that for a second," he said.
He said he prefers administrators and resource officers to be skeptical any time they come across something suspicious.
"You can't take any chances," Armstrong said. He added "we're in a situation if you take a chance we'll be criticized, and when you do your job, you're going to be criticized."
During Tuesday's evacuation, a lot of students became worried while sitting in the stands, and some of this was heightened by nervous parents calling in distress, he noted.
"They triggered things like panic attacks in children that already had pre-existing conditions," Armstrong said.
Many of South Iredell's lockers are zip-tied, he notes, because students haven't used them very much in the last few years. This is done so that they aren't used as trash cans or as places to distribute illegal items.
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