Evacuation triggered by bomb threat

COVINGTON - Newton County Sheriff's Office investigators are looking into a bomb threat left on an answering machine at Eastside High School on Sunday evening.

According to NCSO Investigator Sharron Stewart, school personnel heard the threat Monday morning while listening to messages left over the weekend. Stewart said the school was evacuated around 9 a.m. while deputies and administrators searched the school.

"They go to each room and check to see if there's anything suspicious looking," Stewart said, adding that nothing was found and the students were allowed back into the building as soon as the search was complete.

"We always take threats of this nature very seriously because the safety of our students and employees is our primary concern," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for the

Newton County School System.

No arrests have yet been made, but leads are being followed.

"The school has their own phone system, and the phone company is researching that," Stewart said.

She cautioned students against taking such threats lightly or thinking that similar actions are simply a good way to get out of class for a few hours.

"Their actions have consequences, and we take this as a very serious matter and it will be dealt with accordingly," she said. "Charges could very well result in jail time."

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NCSO at 678-625-1406. Tips can be given anonymously by calling 678-625-5007 or through the NCSO Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org and by clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those wanting a response should leave contact information.

In other crime news, a 16-year-old Newton High School student has been charged with possessing weapons in a school safety zone.

According to NCSO spokesman Lt. Mark Mitchell, the teen was being questioned by an administrator in connection with leaving the campus and recent thefts at the school.

"Further investigation revealed the student had in his truck some knives that would constitute weapons on a school campus," Mitchell said.