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Burke Teen Charged in Bomb Threat at Annandale High School

Police found a suspicious package on the school grounds which lead to an hours-long investigation that delayed school and angered parents.

Update 4:26 p.m.— Fairfax County police today charged former Annandale High School student 19-year-old Marco Antonio Verduo Toledo of the 5400 block of Tilalary Court in Burke with felony threats to bomb and criminal trespass following their investigation of Friday morning's bomb threat at Annandale High School.

According to the police, the Explosive Ordnance Device (EOD) unit found a suspicious backpack just outside the school. Upon examination, EOD officers determined the backpack was not a threat.

Repeated calls by Annandale Patch to Fairfax County Public Schools regarding today's events at Annandale High School have not been returned.

Update 10:22 a.m.—Fairfax County Police Department and Public Schools officials have given the official "all clear" and Annandale High School has reopened.

Police did find a suspicious package this morning outside the front entrance to Annandale High School school after receiving a tip from a local news outlet around 4:30 a.m.

The resulting investigation delayed the opening of Annandale High School for several hours and impacted bus transportation for students attending 18 other Annandale area schools. During the investigation, students and parents reportedly received mixed messages about whether school would be open today.

Police have not released information on the nature of the suspicious package.

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Update 9:55 a.m.— Students and teachers are being allowed back into a limited area of Annandale High School this morning after a bomb threat was called in, according to Officer Bud Walker of the Fairfax County Police, speaking on WTOP.

Students and teachers are being allowed in to "limited parts of the building," according to Walker.

A robot may x-ray a suspicious package found. Walker said it would be taken away from the school and examined to eliminate it as a threat. It was not immediately known where the package is now. Walker was not certain if the suspicious package was a backpack as was reported earlier by WTOP.

Parents have expressed concern about how the situation was handled this morning.

Bernita Lee, whose son walks to Annandale High School, told Patch she was very frustrated at the lack of communication on the part of Fairfax County Public Schools to parents about the situation.

"As a parent, I should have heard from FCPS first," Lee said. "My family had to call me and tell me they saw it on the news. If this happened at 4 a.m., we should have been told hours ago."

"Someone should have called me," she said. "The automated messages came too late. I'm extremely frustrated." Lee also has a son who attends Poe Middle School.

Parents: What do you think about how this morning's situation was handled? Comment below this story.

Update 9:39 a.m.—Fairfax County Police Department Public Information Officer Shelley Broderick confirmed this morning that a suspicious package was discovered near the front door of Annandale High School early this morning.

Bomb experts have removed the device and are investigating. There is no information right now as to whether that device was explosive or otherwise dangerous.

Police officials said they received word about the package this morning from a news outlet, not directly from a school administrator.

Students and faculty who were removed from the property are being allowed back onto campus now.

Update 9:23 a.m.—Another emergency update from Fairfax County Public Schools says the bomb threat investigation at Annandale High School has impacted bus transportation to more than a dozen Annandale area elementary schools. The elementary schools are open for students who can get there.

"Because some of the buses that serve these schools are those that also serve Annandale High School first in the mornings, several buses are also impacted. Schools are open and students are welcome when they are able to arrive, either by parent transportation or once the buses can be cleared to transport them. The list of elementary schools [and other schools - Patch] impacted by these delays include: Annandale Terrace, Bren Mar Park, Columbia, Holmes, North Springfield, Weyanoke, Braddock, Beech Tree, Belvedere, Bryant, Camelot, Canterbury Woods, Fairhill, Little Run, Parklawn, Pine Spring, Sleepy Hollow, Poe."

Update 9:07 a.m.—An official voice message from Annandale High School went out around 9 a.m. telling parents that students are on buses now, but those buses are sitting at Annandale Terrace, Poe and Braddock schools. School is still expected to re-open later this morning.

Parent Bob Dores, whose son was told to go home earlier this morning and has no way to return to school later today, told Patch via email, "Administration gets F for this."

Several parents are at the school waiting for more information and are looking for their children.

Update 9:04 a.m.—Mixed messages and uncomfirmed rumors continue to frustrate students and parents this morning at Annandale High School.

Fairfax County police and fire officials are on the scene continuing to investigate a bomb threat that was called in around 4:30 a.m.

School administrator Dean Morehead told Patch that school will re-open today. "School will not be called off," he said. Faculty are waiting on Heritage Drive.

The A-Blast student newspaper staff says students at Annandale High School will be taken by bus temporarily to while waiting to return to their school, where police are investigating a bomb threat. However, faculty at the school are not confirming anything at this time, and no school buses are visible.

One parent told Patch via email this morning that his son was told to go home.

Among other unconfirmed rumors, some are wondering if the bomb threat is this year's senior prank.

Fire trucks have arrived at the school.

Update 8:27 a.m.—Police are diverting vehicles away from Annandale High School this morning as Fairfax County police continue to investigate a bomb threat that was called in around 4:30 a.m.

Traffic around Annandale High School is very heavy at this time.

One student told Patch that his mother dropped him off at school a little before 7:30 a.m., and he was told to come back in an hour. He's now standing in the parking lot of the high school with other students, waiting.

Some parents are reporting their students have been told to go home, but there does not seem to be a unified message from school officials on whether school is actually closed for the entire day.

Follow @AnnandalePatch on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information, and sign up for email breaking news alerts from Annandale Patch.

Update 8:15 a.m.—Officer Bud Walker of Fairfax County Police Department tells Patch that FCPD was contacted by the principal of Annandale High School at about 4:30 a.m. to come to the school to do a search of the school for anything resembling a bomb.

"We've responded to the request by the principal and we are still on the scene," Walker told Patch. 

Update 8:03 a.m.—A bomb threat at Annandale High School was called into an unnamed media outlet around 4:30 a.m., WTOP has reported. Students are not being allowed into the building. The Fairfax County Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (the bomb squad) is investigating but has not found anything.

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Original Post 7:52 a.m.

Bomb Threat at Annandale High School Not Confirmed

Several parents e-mailed Annandale Patch around 7:30 a.m. reporting an alleged bomb threat at and the school is currenly on lockdown.

Annandale Patch has not been able to confirm this information officials from the Fairfax County Police Department or Fairfax County Public Schools.

Annandale Patch is headed to Annandale High School now and will provide additional information as soon as it is available.

Yesenia Blount March 30, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Why won't they give us a time? I can't just keep checking every five minutes. This school is never prepared for anything! what are the drills even for....
Bob Jones March 30, 2012 at 01:37 PM
FCPS/Annandale, y u no post warning on website?! ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) Thank god for Google.
Chris March 30, 2012 at 01:55 PM
The lack of communication from our school is ridiculous. Even the one email that came after 2 hours contained nothing. We have come to expect better than this from our school leaders.
Jenny Britton March 30, 2012 at 02:06 PM
All I have to say is thank goodness for the Patch. Thanks for keeping us informed Sherrell.
John Doe March 30, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Really, they might as well cancel school by now.
Annandale Parent March 30, 2012 at 02:16 PM
There was no mention of this on Channel 21 either. Parents have been led to believe that news would be communicated through the TV station as well as the FCPS website. This affects close to 20 schools in the area and parents weren't notified by e-mail until 5 hours after the threat was made. What good is all the emergency preparedness if no one follows the procedures?
L Chase March 30, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I'm not an Annandale parent, but have a child in middle school who's bus didn't come. I'm very frustrated that I wasn't alerted about the possibility of the buses not coming for middle school students until I got an automated message at 9:45AM!!! Thank God for my neighbors who made sure that my child made it to school. Had I known earlier, I could have stayed home to take him myself. I'm NOT happy with FCPS right now.
pamela girardin March 30, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I find the issues with communication frustrating and disheartening. And it still isn't any better. My son drives to school and was told that the school is operating on a '2 hour delayed" schedule but that start has already passed and he has no idea when he is supposed to return. Plus - he has heard that there is no parking on campus so if/when he does return, where is he supposed to park? And how does it make sense to keep the kids in a "limited area" of the school -- where is the value of that? This has been so poorly handled. I agree with an above comment -- thank heavens for the Patch
Karen March 30, 2012 at 02:26 PM
My student takes a bus to one of the affected elementary schools. I was getting Patch updates on my phone and then I received automated phone calls from FCPS telling me what Patch told me 20-30 minutes prior. The communication was handled pretty poorly by FCPS. Thanks for the great updates, Sherrell!
Beth Lawton (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Thanks, everyone, for commenting and helping us report the story this morning. We really appreciate the tips and input we got through Twitter, Facebook, email and over the phone. @Elvyn - We had to delete your comment for inappropriate language. We're a family-friendly site. :) - Beth Lawton, Regional Editor and Sherell Williams, Editor, Annandale Patch
Frustrated parent March 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM
So students and faculty are being allowed into the school. When will there be an official announcement that school is opened to all students? This is riduculous. I'm sitting here waiting to take my kid to school, or not, depending on the verdict. Get with it FCPS! Where is the communication???
Beth Lawton (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 02:32 PM
The official "all clear" was sounded around 10:20 a.m. for all students and faculty. Students can and should return to Annandale High School at this time if they are able to do so.
Mary Wilmoth March 30, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I don't believe that they will actually have classes today. I'm not taking my kid just so he can sit in the gym waiting for a bus to take him back home.
Linda Knoche March 30, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Certainly a positive that the Poe Middle School phone updates were somewhat timely; only 40 minutes after the scheduled bus pick-up time and in a language I could understand.
Linda Knoche March 30, 2012 at 02:56 PM
It's clear FCPS needs to centralize communications when schools are effected by an emergency and staff can't be in the affected building to send out updates as clearly was the case at AHS. Why didn't updates come from Central Office? How could they not realize the impact on the pyramid buses until hours after? Yikes! and last I checked my son attends Poe Middle School, not Poe elementary.....
Beth Lawton (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 02:57 PM
You're right -- Poe is a middle school. The list of impacted "elementary schools" was a direct message from FCPS, but we can adjust it to clarify. Thanks!
Toya Jackson March 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM
have children going to all three schools Annandale, Poe, and Braddock and this was outragious. FCPS had the nerve to send out communation at 9:00 am stating there was an emergency at Annandale and the buses are at a safe place, really, tell me what is safe about sitting on the side of the road for hours before you decided to take them to Braddock, TJ, etc. GREAT JOB FCPS and the Administration at Annandale clearly those in higher positions should not be in those positions making dumb decisions as to the safety of students.
Annandale Parent March 30, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Did you see the children wandering up and down Heritage Dr? Apparently the people running FCPS believe that a safe place for a student to be is wandering around the neighborhood. I also saw several students at the park near AHS. Weren't we led to believe that students would be taken to TJ?
Destiny March 30, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Everyone check http://www.thea-blast.org/news/2012/03/30/students-turned-away-from-school/ for more information
Rodriguez March 30, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I'm a student and while i was walking to school I see a girl coming to me and said "don't go is a bomb threat" couple kids the were behind me did not speak English and just kept on walking. This kids could of being hurt, but of course we have to find out at last when we are the students and part of the school is nothing but students.
Rob Jones March 30, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Excellent coverage by the Annandale High School newspaper online at the link above. Truly sad when the "professional adults" communicate worse than the students. Lots to be learned at FCPS about this and NO it is not an isolated incident of no communication associated with facilities and transportation. I too hope the students dig deeper in to the actual timeline and find out why information was so lacking from FCPS.
Trish Roberts March 31, 2012 at 04:06 AM
FCPS apparently responded poorly (not surprising) but from what I heard the police were really quick in finding and apprehending the culprit.

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