Police lights background

Update 2:42 p.m.

Authorities now say that a device found on a Helena elementary school playground was not an explosive and never detonated.

In an afternoon press conference, Sheriff Leo Dutton said the device found at Rossiter Elementary was a pop bottle filled with washers, nuts and bolts, and wrapped in tape. Scattered debris around the bottle led to concerns that it was a bomb.

Dutton said the overabundance of caution was appropriate and teachers acted appropriately in staying away from the object and alerting authorities.

Previous coverage

Students were evacuated from Rossiter Elementary after a detonated homemade explosive was found on campus.

Sheriff Leo Dutton says no one was hurt. In a press conference Tuesday morning, he said a school official discovered the device on the playground, and it had already been detonated. He describes it as a pop bottle secured with duct tape and other components.

More information is slated to be released at a 2:30 PM media briefing Tuesday.

Parents of Rossiter students are being asked to pick up students at the Little Red Schoolhouse East of the frontage road.

Sierra Road is closed from Montana to the Frontage Road and people are asked to avoid the area.

Helena public schools were on lockdown but the order has since been lifted and school will resume as normal according to the Helena Public Schools Facebook.

Helena College posted that they have closed their campuses for the rest of the day.

East Helena School District 9 posted an update to their Facebook at 11:13 am saying “After an exhaustive search of the school grounds in East Helena by the East Helena Police and the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office, the District has been cleared to lift the lockdown of the schools. The District will remain cautious as the Sheriff's Office continues their investigation.”

Great Falls schools were also on lockdown, Great Falls Public Schools posted that school is to resume as scheduled with an increased police presence. Great Falls Police Department swept schools and grounds earlier in the day as a precaution in response to the incident.

Cascade County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook that they are checking on rural schools and that students will be attending classes as normal.

Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook that they sent uniformed officers to the Townsend School. Deputies have canvassed the school and playground and they will stay at the school all day assure the safety of the children.

Butte schools were not under lockdown, but law enforcement agencies sent officers to check on campuses.

The FBI, Montana Highway Patrol, Helena Police Department, and agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms bureau are on scene. The Lewis and Clark County Bomb Squad also responded.

Homemade explosive found at Helena elementary school, students evacuated

This morning's first release from Lewis and Clark County:

...Parents are asked to pick up their kids at the Little Red Schoolhouse East of the frontage road. Sierra Road is closed from Montana to the Frontage Road and people are asked to avoid this area. Buses are at the Little Red School House to keep the kids warm while they wait for their parents.

All Helena District 1 Schools and East Helena Schools are currently on lockdown to be searched by law enforcement but are not being evacuated at this time.

In addition to the Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s office, the FBI, Montana Highway Patrol, Helena Police Department, and Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are on-scene as well as the LCCO bomb squad.

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