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Seniors arrested for hoax device

Pair cannot return to school

POSTED: May 20, 2010 5:16 p.m.

A pair of Dawson County High School seniors will spend the last few days of the school year at home after they were arrested on felony charges for having a hoax device at campus.    

Brandon Kyle Howard and Howard Matthew Kohler, both 17, were taken into custody Wednesday, nearly a week after the alleged incident.    

The teenagers are free on bond, but face strict conditions, including having to stay at least 100 yards away from all county schools.    

They still are scheduled to graduate, but will not participate in the commencement ceremony May 29, said Superintendent Keith Porter.    

Dawson County Sheriff's Sgt. Johnny Holtzclaw said the students were arrested in connection with a conversation at the high school.    

According to Holtzclaw, Kohler made a threatening remark involving "a bomb" during class May 12.     

He is also charged with misdemeanor disruption of a public school.     

Authorities later recovered the device at his home. It was disassembled.    

Holtzclaw said the investigation revealed Howard made the device and gave it to Kohler at school.   

"It is believed that both students did have the hoax device in their possession while on the property of Dawson County High School," Holtzclaw said. "However, investigators were not able to determine the exact date the hoax device was at the school."    

Sheriff's Maj. John Cagle said he was confident the device was never functional.     

"It wouldn't have exploded," Cagle said.    

Still, the sheriff's office and the school system take threats of this nature seriously, Holtzclaw said.    

"It fits the criteria of a hoax device," he said. "They knowingly and willingly made this device and took it to school."    

Porter said the system took every precaution last week to ensure student safety.    

A bomb-sniffing dog and the sheriff's special response team swept the campus and surrounding property May 13, but no similar items were found, Holtzclaw said.    

Parents were notified through the school district's telephone notification system that a threat had been made, Porter said. As a result, several students checked out early May 13.    

"Based on the information that the school system has received, we have no reason to believe students were in any danger at any point in time," Porter said.     

He added that security will be increased at the high school for the remainder of the school year.

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