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Detonated IED causes school evacuation in Helena, searches at other schools

Grimmis described it as a "pop-bottle" type of device with tape on it
Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 19:42:14-04

HELENA — The Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office says an object found at Rossiter Elementary School on Tuesday morning was not an explosive device and there was no detonation, despite earlier reports that there had been a detonation.

According to Sheriff Leo Dutton, the object was a bottle filled with gears or machine parts and an unknown liquid that does not appear to be flammable.

Dutton says in the course of the investigation they spoke to a homeless man who they believe found the bottle and moved it from a nearby construction site.

The Sheriff emphasized that school officials took the appropriate steps after finding the object due to the unknown nature of it.

Additional tests will be completed, but they are not expected to show any dangerous material.

Rossiter is expected to reopen to students on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, an improvised explosive device that had been detonated was found on the Rossiter Elementary School playground in the Helena Valley.

Initial reports from law enforcement officers indicated that the device detonated after it was found, but they later clarified that the device had already detonated when it was discovered, and there were no students in the area at the time.

There were no injuries and no property damage.

Lewis & Clark County Undersheriff Jason Grimmis described it as a "pop-bottle" type of device with tape on it.

The school was quickly evacuated, and Helena College shut down the Airport Campus and the Donaldson Campus due to the incident. Classes at Helena College have been canceled for the remainder of the day and students asked to go home.

The Lewis & Clark County Emergency Management Office says all Helena and East Helena area schools have since been searched and cleared and lockdowns have been lifted.

Rossiter remains closed for the day. It has not been determined yet if Rossiter students will be allowed to return to class on Wednesday.

In addition, schools in and around Great Falls were briefly ordered to implement on "shelter in place" status as police officers and Sheriff's deputies performed sweeps to ensure there were no threats.

In addition to the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s deputies and bomb squad, the FBI, Montana Highway Patrol, Helena Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are at the scene.