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Lexington High Schools Evacuated Over Bomb Threat Linked To Bitcoin Ransom Demand

Josh James

Tuesday’s evacuation of four Lexington high schools was the result of an anonymous bomb threat demanding $500,000 ransom in Bitcoin, according to school officials. Arriving via a district tip line, the message indicated the deposit should take place by 12:30 p.m. 

Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said the "unusual," "specific," and time-sensitive nature of the threat drove his decision to fully evacuate Lafayette, Henry Clay, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Frederick Douglass high schools, where the message indicated bombs had been placed.

All students and staff were safely escorted out as officers began to sweep the buildings with bomb-sniffing dogs. Fayette schools police chief Martin Schafer told reporters late Wednesday afternoon that it was too early to discuss suspects or motives.

"We are speaking to a lot of people, but mainly just in an effort to get the full story before we can focus our efforts into any one person or persons," he said. 

During the 4:30 Tuesday briefing, Schafer said no explosive devices had been found and one school had been cleared.

The incident did cause some confusion for anxious parents, some of whom said the district did not provide enough detail in its initial messages. The school system, Superintendent Liggins explained, wanted to exercise caution in the information it disseminated.

"We want to make sure we're communicating accurate information, therefore we often have to depend on the boots that are on the scene to find out exactly what's going on in order to relay that message to our families," he said. 

Given the current status of the investigation, the district expects to return to normal classes Wednesday. Liggins said, for now, he does not believe additional security measures will be necessary going into the future.  

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.