Juvenile arrested after police investigate possibility of an explosive device

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Switzerland County High School was brought to a standstill last Thursday after some students reported to school officials that another student had possibly constructed an explosive device.

Implementing the school’s Emergency Plan, superintendent Tracy Caddell and high school principal Candis Haskell reported the incident to officers with the Indiana State Police, the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department, and the Vevay Police Department. Officers quickly responded to the high school – but that was only the start of what would turn out to be days of unrest and tension at the school.

On Thursday, law enforcement officers conducted a preliminary investigation prior to speaking with the juveniles in question; and officers recommended that school officials keep students in their current classrooms until it was determined exactly what was going on with the situation. Once the juveniles had been questioned, law enforcement officers believed that if there was a device, it was not in the building – which would have necessitated the possible evacuation of the building.

Questioning of the juveniles continued throughout the school day; and once school had finished for the day; the Indiana State Police, assisted by Vevay and county officers, widened its investigation. Also on the scene were officers and specialists from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The investigation was led by Detective Tom Baxter of the Indiana State Police; along with Trooper Mike Caplinger and Sergeant Dan Goris of the state police.

That investigation led to the discovery of an explosive device in the home of a high school student, according to a press release from the state police.

The explosive device was then rendered safe by members of the Indiana State Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team.

Once the device was safe, officers continued the investigation, and arrested a 15-year old juvenile who is a student at Switzerland County High School. The juvenile was transported to the Jackson County Juvenile Detention facility, and was to appear in Switzerland County Court on Monday.

Because the person is a juvenile, it is policy not to release the student’s name. Court proceedings in juvenile matters are closed to the public.

The student was charged with Possession of a Destructive Device, which is a Class C felony. It is also possible that the case could be transferred into adult court because of the seriousness of the charges. If that happens, then the proceedings will be open to the public.

Following the conclusion of the investigation on Thursday, superintendent Tracy Caddell and principal Candis Haskell asked for the specialists to sweep the high school on Thursday night for the peace of mind of parents, students, and staff for the next day. That sweep was completed prior to the beginning of the volleyball game Thursday evening, and nothing was found.