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PCM sixth grader provides firsthand account of threat

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 11:56 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:02 p.m. CST
(Matthew Nosco/Daily News)
Parents of PCM Middle School pick up their children at the Family Life Center on Tuesday after the school was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

The PCM Middle School and Prairie City Elementary dismissed students at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning in response to a handwritten bomb threat.

According to officials, the note was discovered by a PCM Middle School student in the building at approximately 9:50 a.m. Tuesday. The district executed its emergency plan and evacuated the students safely.

Angel Godwin, the sixth grade student at PCM who found the note in the women’s bathroom, was instantly alarmed and knew that she had to do something.

“The note said, ‘I planted a bomb somewhere in the school.’ It said the bomb was hidden and that it would go off at a certain time. I don’t remember what time it said ... The note ended with laughter.”

Godwin, who was fearful to touch the handwritten note, went to her study hall teacher who immediately went to Stephanie Langstraat, the middle school principal.

“About two minutes after I found it, they had the fire alarm going off and they got everyone outside,” Godwin said. “We were all on the football field, and they had us go to the far end, away from the building.”

Law enforcement officers from the Prairie City and Baxter police departments, DOT Motor Vehicle Enforcement, and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office searched the building. Nothing dangerous was discovered. A criminal investigation is now under way.

The school sent the following notification at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday:

“There has been an incident at the Middle School. We are checking the building now.  Students have been evacuated. Parents please do not come to the building. All students are safe.”

A second message, sent five minutes later, indicated students from both schools would be dismissed at 11:30 a.m. and that buses would be leaving shortly to take the Monroe middle school students back to Monroe. The message also indicated middle school students are currently at the First Reformed Church in Prairie City.

Parents streamed to the church throughout the morning and afternoon to pick up their children. The facility was closely guarded by members of the school district, the Prairie City Police Department, the Iowa State Patrol and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office.

Carrissa Godwin, Angel’s mom, picked up her daughter immediately after receiving the message.

“She was so pale when I got there, I knew something was really wrong,” Godwin said. “Then she told me what happened … She did the right thing, I keep telling her that.”

A third message, sent at 11 a.m., stated PCE students were at the square in Prairie City, daycare kids were at the Prairie City Community Center and that students would be bused home.

For Angel and the rest of the students at Prairie City Middle School, life will go on as normal. School is still in session today, and the track meet and Angel’s softball game Tuesday night went on as scheduled.