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Police: Grenade found on Sandburg bus was replica, not an explosive

Students are released out front Carl Sandburg High School following bomb threone buses during dismissal OrlPark Illinois Friday April 19

Students are released out of the front of Carl Sandburg High School following a bomb threat to one of the buses during dismissal in Orland Park, Illinois, Friday, April 19, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 22, 2013 6:48AM



Orland Park police took no chances Friday when a Sandburg High School student saw what appeared to be a real grenade rolling down the floor of his bus after classes let out.

Police rushed to the scene, evacuated more than 30 school buses in the west parking lot, and soon determined the grenade was actually a replica incapable of exploding, Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating said shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.

Students were allowed to get back on the buses and were driven home. There were no injuries, Keating said.

Just a few days after the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, it’s natural everyone is in a state of heightened awareness, but Keating said the reaction would have been the same “irregardless of what happened in Boston this week.

“Anything that involves schools, schoolchildren, the potential of a grenade or an incendiary device, we always take that very seriously,” Keating said. “Everybody is considerate to what happened in Boston as they would be to any of the school shootings or whatever.

“There’s been a heightened alert in regards to school safety. It’s always on the forefront for us. That’s why we responded the way we did, to make sure this is a safe situation as quickly as possible, especially with 3,400 students and a couple hundred staff members on campus there.”

The male student gave the replica grenade to the bus driver, who placed it on the dashboard and then cleared kids from his bus. School officials called 911, and police soon arrived, as did the Cook

County bomb squad, Keating said.

All the school buses, “in excess of 30,” were evacuated, he said.

Students were moved to a gymnasium or other locations until the search of all the buses was completed, Keating said.

“I wouldn’t call it a toy,” he said of the pseudo grenade. “It’s a replica made to look like a grenade, but it can not blow up. It’s inert, which means it’s an inactive grenade.

“The investigation continues into how it got on the bus and who had it.”

Charges could be filed if it’s determined there was criminal intent, he said.

“Obviously, we don’t allow replica handguns or knives on the school property,” Keating said.

The school was never placed on lockdown. Students getting rides home in vehicles were allowed to leave on the building’s east side.

The bomb squad, at the school’s request, was conducting a sweep of the building Friday evening, using dogs trained to sniff out explosives, Keating said.

“There’s no reason to believe there is anything there because there was no threat. But as a precautionary measure, this is being done,” he said.

The scare didn’t stop a group of track team members from practicing. As they ran near the school’s main entrance, one said, “Yeah, we heard some kid found a grenade.”

Badminton team practice was cut short because access to the gym was limited as it was used to house the bus riders, said freshman Kara Cardinal, 15, of Orland Park.

“I guess it’s all safe,” she said. “It was on one of my friend’s buses.”

Her grandfather, Herb Kashanitz, also of Orland Park, picked her up about 15 minutes early.

In a news release, Consolidated High School District 230 officials said, “We appreciate the quick response of the student, bus driver, school staff and local law enforcement to assure the safety of students.”

Contributing: Joseph P. Meier, Susan DeMar Lafferty



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