California high school evacuated in bomb scare

LOS ANGELES Wed Sep 7, 2011 6:45pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Southern California high school was evacuated on Wednesday after writings found in the belongings of a missing U.S. Navy corpsman suggested he had placed explosives on the campus, authorities said.

Some 3,200 students were pulled out of their first day of classes at San Clemente High School at around 9 a.m. after officials at nearby Camp Pendleton Marine base found the note, Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.

About 180 teachers and other staff were also evacuated from the school, in the coastal city of San Clemente about 65 miles south of Los Angeles.

No explosives were found during an exhaustive search of the campus by sheriff's deputies and federal agents, Amormino said, and the corpsman, 22-year-old Daniel Morgan, later surrendered at a military hospital on the base.

Morgan, who had been missing from Camp Pendleton since Tuesday evening and was considered AWOL, was taken into custody by military police after turning himself in at about 1:15 p.m., Amormino said.

"We took this as a very credible threat because the guy is a member of the military and Camp Pendleton is only like 2 miles away from the high school, and he may have had access to explosives," he said.

The incident began when military authorities concerned over Morgan's whereabouts searched his barracks and found writings "stating that he may have placed explosives on the campus" of San Clemente High School, Amormino said.

The school was searched with the aid of eight bomb dogs as students were evacuated onto a football field and later into a gymnasium as temperatures approached 90 degrees in San Clemente during a heat wave baking Southern California.

The students were later sent home for the day.

"We think the military acted very wisely and quickly in this case," Amormino said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jerry Norton)

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