UPDATE: Bomb threat cleared, students back in school

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Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley helps distribute school lunches during an evacuation of two county schools Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley helps distribute school lunches during an evacuation of two county schools Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE: 1:35 p.m. Tuesday

According to school officials, authorities cleared the bomb threat Tuesday afternoon. Students at Ashley High School and Murray Middle School have been allowed back into the schools. Schools dismissal will run as normal.

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A bomb threat has affected several area schools in the Veterans Park area of New Hanover County.

Ashley High School and Murray Middle School were evacuated just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, due to a bomb threat that was called into Ashley, according to New Hanover County Schools. Anderson Elementary School is under a lockdown, or “shelter in place” order.

All three schools are located in Veterans Park at 161 Halyburton Memorial Parkway in Wilmington. The school system is keeping parents informed about the situation though automated phone messages. Parents are asked not to pick up their children at this time.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and fire crews are investigating the situation. Motorists are advised to avoid the Veterans Park area.

According to sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer, deputies and staff are keeping an eye on students that have been evacuated outside into the schools parking lots and fields.

Ashley High School has a daily attendance of 1,940 students and Murray Middle School has 852 students, according to the latest attendance numbers from the school district.

“Everyone is safe and accounted for,” Brewer said at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. “Right now [the schools] are making arrangements to get the students fed.”

The school district’s child nutrition department prepared 2,800 boxed lunches for students and staff in 90 minutes, according to New Hanover County Schools. Bottled water has also been delivered to the schools.

Brewer said the sheriff’s office had a bomb-sniffing dog sent in from another county to help the investigation. He could not estimate how long the students could remain outside.

“The schools and law enforcement officials take bomb threats seriously. Anyone involved in a hoax could face criminal procecution,” said a school spokeswoman.

Click here to watch a video of the students outside during the evacuation.

Check back for more details on this developing story.