Silver Spring girl told friends she might bomb high school, police say
15-year-old not a threat to community, police say
A 15-year-old girl's family placed her in a mental institution last week after she brought a how-to book on making bombs to her Silver Spring school and told her friends she might plant bombs on the campus, according to police and school officials.
Fellow Northwood High School students notified a counselor of the comments the 10th-grader made about violence June 9. The school officer and Fourth District police were called in to investigate and determined the girl did not pose a threat to the school or the community at large, according to police and school spokesmen.
Montgomery County schools spokesman Dana Tofig said the girl told her friends she planned to do harm to herself and mentioned possibly placing explosive devices around the school as she referenced the bomb-making book "A Poor Man's James Bond," which she had in her possession.
But in meetings with the girl and her mother, school officials and police officers determined the girl, who police said may have mental-health issues, didn't pose a threat to the school, Tofig said.
"It does not appear that there was any imminent threat to anyone," Tofig said.
After Fourth District police executed two search warrants, including one at the girl's home, and found no evidence the girl had planned to carry through with her threats, they referred the case to the State's Attorney's Office, which decided not to press charges, according to county police spokesman Cpl. Dan Friz.
Friz and Tofig stressed that police took the allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation before deciding not to press charges. Tofig said the school will monitor the girl's progress before deciding whether or not to take disciplinary action.
"It's something you have to take seriously, but we're also trying to get a full picture of what's going on," Tofig said of the girl's potential mental-health problems.
The news comes about a year after an alleged Silver Spring school bomb plot, in which police said two Springbrook High School students set a fire in a boys' locker room in April 2009 and had planned to burst a gas line in the school and throw an explosive made of nails into the principal's office. One of the students mentioned the plans to the school's officer, who immediately launched an investigation. Springbrook High's police officer was widely credited with thwarting the plot, and Northwood's school officer played a key role June 9 investigating the girl's remarks. But in the wake of massive budget cuts, all but nine school officer positions across the county will be eliminated.
Tofig said that should another serious case such as a bomb threat come up in a school that no longer has an assigned police officer, he is confident the local police will respond quickly to the situation.
"We will continue to have a good relationship with the police despite not having [a school officer]," he said.
Tofig credited the Northwood students' communication with school officials for preventing any potential harm.
"It was good the students felt comfortable enough to go forward and tell the administration," he said. "That's how it's supposed to work."
Northwood High principal Henry Johnson could not be reached for comment.