Bristol police have arrested a 13-year-old student in connection with one of six bomb threats made to city schools in the past eight days, and said on Wednesday night that they're close to making a second arrest.
Police said the teen is a student at Chippens Hill Middle School, which received a threat on Wednesday afternoon. Investigators have not identified the student by name.
The teen is charged with first-degree false reporting and first-degree threatening, both felonies, as well as second-degree breach of peach and second-degree reckless endangerment.
"Six hours after the bomb threat, we have an arrest, so students should be aware that we are going to get you," Cockayne said on Wednesday night.
"Once the students see it's not a game anymore, we're wasting a lot of resources," Cockayne added. "We're going to go after the parents for the cost of this and hopefully it will stop."
Bristol police responded to bomb threats at three schools on Wednesday.
Bristol police, firefighters and EMS responded to a threat at St. Paul Catholic High School at 1001 Stafford Avenue at 11:31 a.m. The Archdiocese of Hartford said bomb-sniffing dogs helped investigate at St. Paul School.
At 1:02 p.m., there was a bomb threat at Chippens Hill Middle School on Peacedale Street.
The latest threat came in the form of a note scrawled on a bathroom wall at Stafford Elementary School. A custodian found it around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Cockayne and Bristol police. Authorities believe a child wrote it.
Students had left school for the day, but a local Girl Scout troop was preparing for a ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. About 25 girls, a few teachers and the school principal were evacuated.
A state police bomb squad conducted searches and cleared the schools, police said in a news release.
"It's just upsetting because I can't even imagine how much this is costing," said Girl Scout Troop Leader Sandy Leba. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars to deploy bomb squads, K-9 units and all that."
Leba said, in light of the threats, she felt compelled to talk to her 14-year-old son about the seriousness of the incidents.
"I wouldn't think he'd ever do anything, but as a parent, I felt obligated to get my say in there," she said.
Since the end of May, Bristol police have also responded to bomb threats at Bristol Central High School, Bristol Eastern High School and Northeast Middle School. Nothing dangerous was found during any of the sweeps.
Earlier Wednesday, the city announced a $1,000 reward for anyone with information leading to arrests in connection with the threats.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance at the schools, investigating all six bomb threats and expect to make multiple arrests, which Bristol police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said appear to "be a little bit of copycatting."
"We are looking at charges that do involve terrorism," Grimaldi said during a news conference on Wednesday night, adding that the consequences are "potential felony charges."
There are likely multiple perpetrators who were not working together, and police said the incidents appear to be isolated.
“We want to make sure that everyone knows there are very serious consequences. This is not a game. This is not a joke," Grimaldi said.
While the schools were closed after the bomb threats on Wednesday, that will change from now on, according to Bristol Superintendent Ellen Solek.
She said that students and faculty will now return to classes instead of being sent home once police have thoroughly searched the buildings and deemed them safe. She said it's the first time school leaders had to respond to a situation like this.
Grimaldi and Bristol Fire Chief Jon Prose said that hoaxes like the bomb threats are exhausting police and fire resources and risk taking them away from other emergency incidents. Prose said he's concerned about the safety of citizens and his firefighters who respond to bogus calls.
"I'm sure they'll be caught and they'll be prosecuted," Prose said.
Grimaldi said that if and when students are arrested, the charges will likely still be felonies but that they will be tried in juvenile court. He also stressed that the court process is lengthy.
No explosives were found and no injuries were reported at any of the schools.
Anyone with information on the threats is urged to call Bristol police at 860-584-3011.