Story by: Claire Dorsch, Features Editor
Photos by: Elizabeth Miller, staff photographer
On March 20th of 2015 at 10:30 a.m., a man by the name of Matthew Irwin, 30, made the students and faculty at Mt. Vernon High School feel unsafe in their own building by phoning in a false bomb threat to the school office and robbing Fortville Bank.
Students from the high school and eighth grade academy, who were in the midst of taking finals, were instructed to move to the two nearest buildings.
Irwin has since been sentenced to five years and received 278 days of credit for time already served, which is lower than the 10 years average sentence for bank robbery and up to 25 years for making a bomb threat. He was charged with robbery, false informing, conspiracy to commit robbery, intimidation and being a habitual offender.
Irwin’s accomplice, Brittany Krieg, 20, of Anderson, also faces counts of false informing, conspiracy to commit robbery and intimidation.
Since his bomb threat nearly a year ago, there has been another bomb threat on Mt. Vernon, which took place during the first nine weeks of the school year.
Plainfield and Avon have also received bomb threats. Both were dismissed as non-credible, but both schools were shut down for the day as a precaution. Many schools in Ohio have also received bomb threats as well in the past month.
“I think that the increase in threats made to schools has to do with the publicity of the threats,” said Braydon Titley, 10. “People who want to harm schools see how big of a reaction [the schools] make so they take advantage of that.”
The police of Fortville have done their best to help the school deal with the recent threats.
“I appreciate all of the help from the citizens and businesses in both communities and the hard work of the dedicated officers of the Fortville Police Department, Anderson Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the officer’s assigned to Community Hospital,” said Lieutenant Patrick Bratton of Fortville Police. “We had overwhelming community support with the tips and just kept following up on them until it led us to our suspects.”
The students and staff of Mt. Vernon are also beginning to wonder if the threats are results from spikes of violence or if school corporations are taking threats more seriously.
“The last two years have been a bit unusual as we went some 2-3 years without any threats to the general student population,” said Principal Bernie Campbell about the topic of the increased amount of threats made on MVHS. “On the surface I do not see any common threads, but with the increased use of social media, there are more opportunities for students to make reckless and dangerous comments. Secondly, students have grown much more responsible about reporting threats to an adult.”
The suggestion that students are getting better at reporting potential threats may be a the reason for the entire country seeing an increase in threats
These kinds of occurrences are happening all over the country. Twenty-six schools in New Jersey have received bomb and shooting threats in the past two weeks, so have fifteen in Massachusetts and three in Iowa.
These increased occurrences could be linked to students and other members of the community becoming less careful with their words or more knowledgeable in the fact that these threats are taken so seriously that the school can give students permission to stay home that day with a parent’s or guardian’s permission.
Over six-hundred students stayed home because of the most recent threat made to Mt. Vernon. There was a shooting threat made on Friday, January 15. Bags and backpacks were checked upon students’ arrival on Tuesday, January 19. There was a heavy police presence in the building, but thankfully the student responsible was taken into custody and confessed.