According to the Altoona Police Department, the school was evacuated at 11:54 a.m. after an automated phone call posed a threat.
“Altoona Elementary received a threat. We took immediate emergency action, called the police department, then removed the children as soon as possible,” said Mattia Hansen, Community Relations Coordinator, Southeast Polk schools.
The Altoona and Des Moines police departments completed an interior and exterior search of the building, and nothing suspicious was found in or around the school, police say.
Noelle Scalco lives right next to the school. Her son attends the elementary school.
“It was really scary — very scary,” said Scalco. She said she’s also very angry.
“To do this to kids is not ok … at all,” she said.
But the school says situations like this have been thought through by the district.
“We have those emergency procedures in place, and we practice them, and the kids knew this wasn’t a drill and the students followed along. That’s why we do drills and practice these things,” Hansen said. “You have to be prepared for every situation, and at Southeast Polk, we are prepared. When things like this come up, we have practiced and it makes it a lot easier to handle.”
Scalco’s son, Christian, said he thought it was a drill when school officials took the students to the nearby church. He also said he didn’t understand why someone would threaten his school.
“I was just like, why would anyone want to bomb this place? What made them do that to us?” Christian said.
June 2 is the last day of school for Altoona Elementary.
Authorities are working with the Southeast Polk School District on the investigation.
The Des Moines Police Department, Altoona Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Pleasant Hill Police Department and Mitchellville Police Department assisted in the investigation.
Check back for updates.