October 28, 2005 in Idaho

Lakeland students arrested in Rathdrum bomb scare prank

By The Spokesman-Review

Four Lakeland High School students who left a suspicious package outside the HICO Country Store in Rathdrum on Tuesday didn’t expect their high jinks to have such a big effect, said Rathdrum police Lt. Alex Carrington.

Three of the students were taken in for questioning Thursday and confessed, Carrington said. They were arrested on charges of telephone harassment, public nuisance, disturbing the peace and conspiracy to commit crimes, Carrington said.

“It was just a prank that went horribly wrong,” he said.

The students left an empty cardboard box, taped shut, between a public phone and a Coca-Cola vending machine outside the store Tuesday afternoon.

Then, using a cell phone, one of them called the public phone as a store customer was walking by, according to Carrington.

The customer answered the phone and was told that it was important to get the package at his feet to the police. The customer notified store employees, and they called police, who called Northern Lakes Fire, ambulance personnel, the Spokane County bomb squad, Idaho State Police and a hazardous materials crew.

The store was evacuated and state police blocked off the highway going through town for nearly four hours. The bomb squad arrived and detonated the harmless package with a robot, damaging the vending machine in the process.

For a while, the students watched from the McDonald’s restaurant next door, Carrington said.

“Once they figured out what was going on, they got scared and ran off,” he said.

A tip and help from school officials helped police identify the suspects, and one of the four students came forward and spoke with police. He was not arrested, but his three peers were, and were booked into Kootenai County Juvenile Detention on Thursday.

Carrington said they will appear today before a judge who will decide whether to release them to their parents.

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