- Editor's note: The following information was posted as an announcement on Geneva Patch at 1:01 a.m. Nov. 15 by Rama Canney of St. Peter Church, and I didn't spot it until Friday morning, Nov. 18. I apologize for not getting this information onto the home page sooner and hope some of the details presented here will shed some light on the series of events. If you have news or information of interest or post an announcement or event on Geneva Patch that you feel merits home-page display, please contact Rick Nagel at 630-886-0792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before school opened Monday morning, a parishioner reported seeing a broken window in the St. Peter school building. It appeared the shattered window was no accident and police were called.
The police took the report and advised it was OK to begin cleanup. They left the premises. Shortly after, while removing the broken glass, an envelope containing white powder was discovered in the school office, in the area of the broken window. Police were immediately alerted and returned to the school with the Fire Department.
Since the substance was unknown, school and parish officials and the Geneva Police and Fire Departments, determined most areas of the school would go on lockdown. With the assistance of the Aurora Fire Department, it was determined that the substance was a non-threatening household product.
Within a few hours, children and school personnel were allowed to return to their normal routine, with lunch needing to be served later than normal. An informational automated message was sent out to parents advising of the issue and the resolution.
In the afternoon, another threat caused the Geneva police to be called and dispatched again. The entire school, church, chapel and parish offices were evacuated.
A person outside of St. Peter School reported that someone in a white mini-van said they would blow up the building if it was not evacuated. St. Peter School Principal Roseann Feldmann promptly ordered emergency school building evacuation procedures. Feldmann said faculty and staff implemented procedures flawlessly, ensuring all the children were quickly and calmly evacuated to a pre-planned, off-site location.
As soon as the children were securely in the designated locale, the automated call system was used again to send a message advising parents of the threat, assuring them students were all present and accounted for, providing information about bus or pick-up options, providing a phone number should they need to call the safe location.
Facility Manager Jeff Link advised all persons in the church, parish offices and chapel buildings to vacate. Within a few hours, the Kane County and Cook County Sheriffs’ K-9 units had searched the school and church buildings; with negative results, they gave the all clear.
Principal Feldmann, School Secretary Toni Cummins and Facility Manager Jeff Link said they were thankful and proud of the performance of our Police and Fire Departments, school faculty, staff, volunteers and students during the emergencies. They singled out the Geneva School District for their excellent support.
Feldmann said she worked with many people over the last year to develop a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan.
“We do all that work for days like today," she said. “The number one focus is ensuring the safety of all the children and others on the premise, and that means a lot of little and big details have to be well executed. That happened today.”
The principal noted that communication with the parents as soon as possible is also important. She thinks they did a good job but will work on further improving this area. A few parents had not returned their emergency contact forms or had forgotten to advise the school of new phone numbers. The school will again reemphasize and work with parents in this area.
Shortly after the school day was over, the school office had already received thanks and commendations from parents about the effective action taken to ensure the safety of all involved and for keeping them informed.
St. Peter Parish Pastor The Rev. Martins Emeh was away from the parish during the event but was continually in the communications loop throughout the day. He said he gives thanks to God for everyone’s safety and for the wonderful partnership of the Geneva School District.
The pastor also is very proud of the way all involved executed the emergency plans. Fr. Martins praised the excellent response and service of the Geneva Police Department and the Geneva and Aurora Fire Departments and is appreciative of the help and expertise of the Kane and Cook County Sheriff Departments’ K-9 units. The Rev. Emeh encourages everyone—parents, staff, students, clergy, community and police—to be on high alert and vigilant so we can prevent this person or these persons from creating more trouble, damage or harm.
It is not known if these incidents are connected. The person who made the bomb threat is described as a white male, approximately 40 years of age, face unshaven for a few days, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes in a white mini-van with tinted-windows.
Those with information about the described person or any of the incidents: broken window, white powder in an envelope or the bomb threat should contact Cmdr. Julie A. Nash at the Geneva Police Department, 630-232-4736.