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Small Explosion Outside Tampa High School; No Injuries ReportedAired February 27, 2001 - 12:23 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are just getting another break story here to the CNN Center: word now that there is a -- some sort of a handmade explosive device that was detonated at a high school, Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida.
To get the latest now, we are joined on the telephone by Mark Hart. He is the public affairs director of the Hillsborough County schools in Florida.
Mr. Hart, what can you tell us about this incident?
MARK HART, PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, HILLSBOROUGH CO. SCHOOLS: Well, fortunately, no one was hurt and damage was minimal. But, at approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning, a small homemade device went off in the mall area of Jefferson High School, which is near downtown Tampa. Again, no one was injured. And Tampa police are actively investigating this incident.
HARRIS: They still don't know, then, who may be responsible for this device?
HART: We hope we will know something soon. We need to let law enforcement do their work here. We did evacuate the school and search it thoroughly shortly after the device went off to ensure that there were no other materials like that in the school.
There was nothing else found. Students returned to their classrooms. And we're trying to have a normal school day to the best extent we can under the circumstances.
HARRIS: Understandably so, here.
How close was this detonation to any students?
HART: Unfortunately, it occurred during a class-change period when there were students in this common area. It was certainly a frightening event for them. But it was too small to have caused any substantive damage -- you know, possible injuries aside.
HARRIS: So there really could have been some serious damage done in this incident here?
HART: No, actually, it's being characterized as a very low-level device. Nonetheless, we had to treat it very seriously and search the school to ensure the premises were safe before we allowed the students to reoccupy. So even though it was a low-level occurrence, we have taken it very seriously and proceeded with all due caution.
HARRIS: Is this the first incident of this kind you have had in your school system?
HART: There was something comparable that happened on the second day of school in August at another high school in Hillsborough County. A young man was arrested and charged in connection with that. And, of course, any kind of act of violence or threat of act of violence against our students is dealt with very harshly. We have a zero- tolerance policy here and follow it to the letter.
HARRIS: All right, thanks much, Mark Hart, public affairs director of Hillsborough County schools in Florida. And, once again, the good news here is that this detonation of some sort of a bomb or a pipe bomb or whatever at a trash can at this Jefferson High School and no one was hurt in the incident. We'll keep our eyes on this story.
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