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Wendy Reuer and Mike Nowatzki, Published May 08 2012

Fargo’s Agassiz School building evacuated after bomb, gunshot reports

FARGO – The Agassiz School building was evacuated after a bomb threat and the report of a shot fired prompted a lockdown Tuesday afternoon.

School officials received a call of a bomb threat at about 1:45 p.m. at the building at the corner of University Drive and Ninth Avenue South, Superintendent Rick Buresh said.

The caller reported that there were several bombs placed around the school. Shortly after, someone called the school a second time and said there were shots fired, not in the school but somewhere else, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

“There was some confusion as to possibly where the gunshots were, but we were able to determine there were no gunshots fired within the school,” he said.

The school was put on lockdown and police made a sweep of the building.

“Initially there was thought there might be an active shooter, so the protocol then was to keep the kids secured in the classrooms,” Buresh said. “Once it was determined that there wasn’t a threat inside the building, then it was decided to evacuate.”

Parents were asked to pick up students at South High School, where they were taken by bus.

About 80 students and additional staff were inside the school at the time. Buresh said students in Woodrow Wilson, the district’s alternative high school, were in session, and there were also preschoolers there. Besides the high school, the Agassiz building is home to a number of district programs – including adult education and English language learner classes.

A concerned Methaq Khallaf arrived at the intersection of University Drive and Seventh Avenue South about 3 p.m., looking for information as to why his wife, brother and 4-year-old son were still inside the school after their English language class, which normally lets out at 2:30 p.m. The family emigrated from Iraq three years ago, he said.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said.

Once the evacuation was complete, a bomb squad searched the school and found no further threats.

During the lockdown, University Drive was closed at Seventh Avenue South, and northbound traffic on 14th Street was diverted west on Ninth Avenue South, Vettel said.

After hearing of the incident, other schools chose to go on lockdown as a precautionary measure, including Ben Franklin Middle School and Carl Ben Eielson Elementary.

All evening events, classes and testing at Agassiz were canceled Tuesday, but classes and all regular activities at Agassiz will resume today, the district said in a news release.

2nd bomb threat

at Carlson Library

Fargo police responded to a second bomb threat Tuesday at the Carlson Library at 2801 32nd Ave. S.

Officers say shortly after 7 p.m., a 26-year-old man told library staff he had a bomb and then fled the premises. Nearly a dozen squad cars showed up – some officers had their guns drawn – and the man was taken into custody on nearby 25th Street.

Police say the man was taken to Essentia Health for a medical evaluation.

Readers can reach Forum reporters Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530 and Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528