Explosives found in suspicious device at Trussville elementary school

Explosives found in suspicious device at Trussville elementary school
Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video
Source: Vincent Parker/WBRC
Source: Vincent Parker/WBRC
Source: Vincent Parker/WBRC
Source: Vincent Parker/WBRC

TRUSSVILLE, AL (WBRC) - An agent investigating the suspicious device found outside of Magnolia Elementary School in Trussville on Wednesday confirmed it did have explosives.

The lockdown at Magnolia Elementary was lifted after a bomb squad blew up the device, Captain Jeff Bridges with the Trussville Police Department said.

Authorities said someone called the school about the device. ATF Special Agent in Charge David Hyche said the caller said, "I know what a bomb looks like, it's in the parking lot."

The device was placed on the hood of a cafeteria worker's pickup truck, according to Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight. The school said the device had been found in the car line.

Knight said an ATF agent told him the explosive device had gunpowder.

"The device was probably about 100 to 120 feet away from the side of the school and there were virtually no windows. It's virtually a brick building on that side. I don't think the kids as long as they were inside the building were in any danger at all," Hyche said.

Hyche said agents disarmed the device by shooting it with a shotgun shell full of water, which is meant to render the device useless. That controlled explosion happened in a wooded area on the side of the school.

Hyche said the device had wires and a digital timer but they did not call it a bomb. However, Hyche said there is enough evidence to make authorities take this very seriously.

"From what we found, there's no indication that students were ever in any danger from this item," Hyche said. "It was a fairly good distance from the school. From what we are seeing, I hate to speculate, but from what I'm seeing after doing this for 29 years, if the device had functioned, the school would have been in no danger."

The school moved the students to a storm shelter away from the device. Students have since returned to their classes, police said at 12:30 p.m.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the scene and searched the premises, but they did not find any other suspicious devices.

Several students and their parents admitted to being scared. Parents were allowed to check their children out early.

"Relieved and happy. Just glad to see him and to see his classmates. Everybody is fine. I'm good," parent Kourtney Harper said after picking up his son.

"When you start doing this kind of thing at the schools, to our children, we take it very seriously. We need to get to the bottom of it right away," Knight said.

Other parents expressed outrage and felt like the school hadn't down enough to notify them about the emergency.

"If we can send out texts about lunch accounts, bad weather, why couldn't we send out text or a call, an automated call for this situation," Crystal Burford asked.

"I understand the panic factor. A lot of people on social media have been expressing their opinion and talking about they didn't want to create a panic and I understand that. What I don't understand is that you have a responsibility  to each and every parent at that school that if something is going down out there especially a  bomb I have right to be notified," Burford added.

Trussville City Schools notified parents through social media, the school system's and elementary school's website, but not by phone.

Even so, Lisa Bell said she can understand the rationale on both sides.

"I know that a lot of people are really frustrated with the way it was handled. No one was notified and I understand that. If I had not been there, I would have felt the same way. On the flip side, they kept our kids safe, which for me is something more than important than getting a notification. To know that Dr. Jeter was in there talking to my kindergartener in such a way that he understood what was going on and not being scared," Bell said.

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