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IED detonates at Helena school; no injuries reported

IED found on the Rossiter Elementary School playground
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Posted at 9:47 AM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 19:41:19-04

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.

Here is the full text of a press release from the Lewis & Clark County Communications Coodinator on Tuesday at 9:35 a.m.; it was also posted to the Lewis & Clark County Emergency Management page on Facebook:

  • An Improvised Explosive Device was found this morning on the Rossiter School playground. It detonated shortly after. Nobody was injured. Rossiter students are being evacuated and the path for kids to evacuate has been cleared. Parents are asked to pick up their kids at the Little Red Schoolhouse East of the frontage road. Sierra Road is closed from Montana to the Frontage Road and people are asked to avoid this area. Buses are at the Little Red School House to keep the kids warm while they wait for their parents. All Helena District 1 Schools and East Helena Schools are currently on lockdown to be searched by law enforcement but are not being evacuated at this time.In addition to the Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s office, the FBI, Montana Highway Patrol, Helena Police Department, and Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are on-scene as well as the LCCO bomb squad.

Rossiter is expected to reopen to students on Wednesday.



(12:55 pm) Authorities found an improvised explosive device on the Rossiter Elementary School playground in the Helena Valley on Tuesday morning. It detonated shortly after. Nobody was injured.



Students are being evacuated and the path for kids to evacuate has been cleared.



All Helena District 1 Schools and East Helena Schools are currently on lockdown to be searched by law enforcement officers, but are not being evacuated at this time.

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.



All Great Falls Public Schools buildings and grounds are currently in a "Shelter-in-Place" as requested by the Great Falls Police Department. This a precaution in response to the incident in Helena. The GFPD is currently sweeping schools and grounds. There has been no specific threat made to our schools at this time.

Helena College has 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 have been asked to go home.

We will update you as we get more details.



(1st Report, 9:19 a.m.) Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says traffic is being diverted around Sierra Road in the Helena Valley after a report that a possible explosive device was discovered.

Sierra Road has been closed between North Montana and Frontage Road. People are being asked to avoid the area.

According to the Montana Highway Patrol, students are being evacuated from Rossiter Elementary School. Parents are being asked to pick up students the Little Red School House.

Parents should take the Frontage Road or the Masonic Road to reach the school house.

We will update you as we get more information.