WEST ALLIS -- There was no school on Thursday, March 10th at West Allis Central High School after three bomb threats in three days. Classes were cancelled so that school officials, city officials and police could meet to discuss these bomb threats and what can be done to stop them. But despite the fact that there was no school, on Thursday night, tournament basketball was played at West Allis Central as Brookfield Academy and Milwaukee Lutheran faced off in the WIAA boys basketball sectional semifinals.
It was a battle of the Knights -- Blue vs. Red.
Law enforcement officials deemed the school safe after Wednesday's bomb threat, so the game went on at West Allis Central.
"My guys are well prepared," said Patrick Clarey, Brookfield Academy boys basketball varsity head coach ahead of the game.
"We're ready to play," said Adam Kirsch, Milwaukee Lutheran High School principal ahead of the game.
The matchup between Brookfield Academy and Milwaukee Lutheran took place on neutral ground at West Allis Central.
There was some concern after three bomb threats were called in to the school this week -- on Monday, March 7th, Tuesday, March 8th and Wednesday, March 9th.
On Monday and Tuesday, students were briefly evacuated while the school was searched. Nothing was found, and classes resumed.
On Wednesday, students were sent home for the day, and it was announced that there would be no school on Thursday.
Officials with Brookfield Academy and Milwaukee Lutheran discussed a change of location for Thursday night's game, but WIAA officials refused to move the game, saying: "We have been working closely with all three schools involved in this event."
Officials with the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District said they were glad to host the basketball sectional semifinals, and that West Allis Central was safe.
"We've been assured from the West Allis police that their search has been thorough and there is no threat to the school," said Coach Clarey ahead of the game.
"I trust West Allis PD -- known them forever. I'm familiar with the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. I trust them and more importantly, I trust my administration here as well," said Principal Kirsch ahead of the game.
Officials with both teams discussed the circumstances with their players and used this situation as a life lesson.
"This is just another distraction. We address it and we move on," said Clarey.
"This is something that is outside of the realm of basketball but it's another hurdle that you have to overcome," said Kirsch.
Seventeen seniors, between the Red and Blue Knights, played Thursday night.
"We're more focused on making sure they have a great experience because for some of them, that'll be their last game, and I think that's a bigger deal," said Clarey ahead of the game.
"He was in game mode," Jeff Walker said.
They've been shooting for this all year long I think," Dawn Walker said.
The Walker's son, TD Walker, was one of 10 seniors who played for the Milwaukee Lutheran Knights on Thursday evening.
"To be able to play at a stage like this and be able to have a chance to win two more games and go to state, that`s a kid's dream," Jeff Walker said.
There was extra security and police officers on hand during the game.
"I think there`s some apprehension with the parents. Talking about it, thinking about it. I know both schools requested it be moved," Jeff Walker said.
West Allis Central was open Thursday for after-school activities such as track practice and then, of course, the basketball game.
Classes will resume on Friday.
"It`s a felony. This isn`t a misdemeanor, so it's not going to be treated as simply a slap on the wrist. I think law enforcement takes it seriously and our office takes it very seriously and the fact that people have received prison sentences as a result of it I think demonstrates that a lot of the courts take it seriously as well," Patrick Anderson, an assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County said.
The maximum sentence for an adult accused of making a bomb threat is a year-and-a-half in prison with two years probation after that.
Juveniles can receive up to two years incarceration. If the offender is 15 years old or older, they could be waived into adult court.
On Friday night, the school will host another basketball game as Milwaukee Riverside and Milwaukee Vincent go head to head.
Below is a statement issued by West Allis-West Milwaukee School District officials, in conjunction with the City of West Allis, West Allis Police Department, and West Allis Fire Department on Thursday evening:
Today West Allis-West Milwaukee School District leadership, high school principals, Mayor Dan Devine, and representatives from the West Allis Police and Fire Departments met to discuss the recent threats at Central High School. The meeting focus was to maintain student and staff safety and develop additional steps to mitigate to these incidents.
When any threat is made to a school building in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, the West Allis Police Department is immediately notified and district emergency protocols are executed. Law enforcement immediately assesses the threat and determines which district processes will be used for staff and student evacuation. A decision by district administration is then made using law enforcement recommendations and logistical details to determine whether students and staff return to the building or are released for the remainder of the day. Please keep in mind that only full evacuations require parent pick up and parents are informed if this is necessary. An effort to return students to their learning environment is always the goal; however, all threats are taken very seriously and assessed on an individual basis.
Information about recent threats at Central High School should be forwarded to the West Allis Police Department at (414)302-8000. Information can be provided anonymously to Crime Stopper’s direct line at (414) 476-2274, where up to a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for these threats is being offered. Given today’s technology, tracking phone numbers and other channels of communication is increasingly difficult. The West Allis Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are dedicating every possible resource to find those responsible for making these threats.
Central High School students and staff will return for classes tomorrow, March 11, 2016. Additional school liaison officers from the West Allis Police Department will be on site tomorrow and Tuesday and will engage directly with all students to discuss the recent threats at the school. They will be discussing the significance of the threats, reinforcing the importance of coming forward with any information that they may know about the situation, and reviewing the consequences that will occur when the individual(s) is apprehended.
After consulting with the local law enforcement, we have determined that the building is safe and secure for all after school activities including the scheduled WIAA basketball game taking place this evening and during the coming weekend.
Beyond the additional police presence and engagement with students, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District will be providing additional counseling support for our students and staff as they work through these stressful interruptions in their school community.
The safety of students and staff is our number one priority at all times, and we are working together as a community to end these incidents.