Update 3:50 p.m.
GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Police Department had a press conference at 2:30 pm on Monday to provide an update on the investigation into the threat that caused the closure of all schools on Monday.
At about 5:37 a.m. on Monday, a staff custodian found a handwritten note at an elementary school; the note contained threatening verbiage and stated that an explosive device had been planed at "multiple Great Falls schools."
The threatening note caused all Great Falls Public Schools and most private schools in Great Falls close for the day. Great Falls schools sent text messages and initiated automated phone messages to alert families at around 7 a.m.
Police officers, assisted by other agencies including the Cascade County Sheriff's Office, the Montana Highway Patrol, and Probation & Parole officers, immediately began searching all school facilities.
Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore said that as of 2:30 p.m., all schools have been searched and cleared, and no explosives have been found.
Great Falls police said that a "vague suspect" has been identified thanks to surveillance video, but in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, they are not releasing information about the suspect or the threatening note at this time.
Moore also said that at this point, all schools will be in session on Tuesday. He noted that there is no "penalty" from the state Office of Public Instruction in this situation, so the district does not plan to add another day to the current school year.
Anyone with information about the threat is asked to call the Great Falls Police Department at 406-455-8547.
Update: 10:10 a.m.
The Great Falls Police Department said in a news release Monday morning that the closure of schools throughout the city is due to a threatening note that was posted at an elementary school.
The note caused all Great Falls Public Schools and most private schools in the area to close for the day. In addition, all activities at public schools have been canceled for Monday evening.
A school employee found the message. The handwritten note included threatening verbiage, including a bomb threat, targeting multiple schools in the community.
Police said the safety of all students and staff is always a top priority for the department and the decision was made to cancel all school activities for the day.
Several private schools have opted to also suspend activity for the day. It is not believed Cascade County rural schools are affected; rural community members are encouraged to contact their school directly with questions.
The community should expect to see a law enforcement presence, throughout the day, in and around our schools as we continue the investigation. Please do not interfere with the investigation by attempting to contact officers or our dispatch center, unless there is a legitimate medical, fire, or law enforcement issue.
Police said they appreciate the community’s cooperation as "we recognize this is an inconvenience for all students, parents, and faculty."
Anyone with information regarding the threat is asked to call the department at 406-727-7688 (extension 5).
Update: 8:35 a.m.
All public schools in Great Falls are closed Monday, and several other schools have followed suit. The closures were made after unspecified threats were made to at least one school.
The Great Falls Police Department has asked that people not call 911 or dispatch for information about the situation. The dispatch center should be used for legitimate medical, fire, and police issues and emergencies.
Police said in addition to public schools they have confirmed that the following schools are also closed:
- Five Falls Christian
- Our Lady of Lourdes
- Central Catholic
- University of Providence
Great Falls College-MSU posted on Facebook saying that it is open today. College officials are monitoring the situation.
Foothills Community Christian School said their policy is to follow the lead of the public schools in weather and safety related delays and closures. As a result, there will be no classes Monday and the school will be closed for staff and students.
Police said they do not believe Cascade County rural schools are affected, and advise parents to contact those schools directly if you have questions.
GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Public Schools announced at 6:55 a.m. on Monday that all public schools in Great Falls are closed Monday.
A Facebook post by the Great Falls Police Department states the school closures are due to a "police investigation."
The post states:
ALL GREAT FALLS SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TODAY!!!
Due to an ongoing police investigation, all Great Falls Schools will be closed today. Expect to see a police presence at all schools throughout the day. We will update you with more details as they become available. We realize this is an inconvenience for your family, but the safety of your children is of paramount importance.
School officials said students in need of daycare can be taken to Paris Gibson Education Center.
In addition, the University of Providence said its campus also will be closed Monday due to the police situation. The university said there is "no immediate threat to our campus at this point, but we take our students, faculty and staff and their families’ safety seriously."
Foothills Community Christian School also said their policy is to follow the lead of police in weather and safety related delays and closures. As a result, there will be no classes Monday and the school will be closed for staff and students.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.