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Evacuated Vail schools given all-clear after TPD searches campuses

Threat at Cienega High School deemed not credible. After-school extra curricular activities cancelled at Desert Sky MS, Empire HS, Vail Innovation Center
Posted at 12:56 PM, Apr 16, 2024

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.

Vail School District shared on social media that Tucson Police Department determined that all evacuated schools were safe for students to return.

Because the all-clear was issued near the end of the school day, district officials say students who were moved to Esmond Station K-8 would remain there for pick-ups.

District officials also say that staff would remain at Empire High School, Vail Blended and Vail Innovation Center until 6 p.m. for any students who need to return to campus to pick up their belongings.

Superintendent John Carruth sent the following letter to families Tuesday afternoon:

Dear Parents,

At about noon today, we received the same anonymous phone call at Desert Sky Middle School, Empire High School, and Cienega High School that simply stated there was a bomb on campus, and the person then hung up.

We immediately began coordinating with law enforcement and were instructed to evacuate the buildings at all three campuses. Because the Vail Innovation Center and Vail Inclusive Preschool share a campus with Empire and Cienega respectively, these schools were also included in the evacuation.

Due to county and city jurisdictions, efforts were led by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department at Cienega High School and the Tucson Police Department at Desert Sky Middle School and Empire High School respectively.

Extensive searches were conducted at all three schools. All three schools have been deemed clear of any concern and are safe for students and staff to return. School will function as usual tomorrow.

We are very grateful for our partnership with local law enforcement and thank them for helping to keep our students and staff safe. There is an ongoing investigation as to the source of the phone calls. If you have any information, please contact the law enforcement department in your jurisdiction.

Thank you to our students, staff, and parents for your cooperation and understanding while we worked to ensure that schools were safe for everyone to return.

John Carruth
Vail Unified School District

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.

Updates were issued for the other evacuated Vail District schools.

Desert Sky Middle School:

"The Tucson Police Department is currently searching the Desert Sky Campus with assistance from their bomb squad. All students and staff are outside and safe at this time. They will remain there until TPD determines that the campus is safe for their return.

"It is expected that students will be dismissed from Desert Sky at their normal time. Please know that busing may be delayed due to traffic congestion in the area.

"All extra curricular activities will be canceled today."

Empire High School and Vail Innovation Center:

"Empire, VIC, and Vail Blended student drivers are being asked to drive home. Non drivers are being sent to Esmond Station K-8. If your child receives transportation home on a bus, your child will be given transportation home via Vail Transportation. If your child does not drive or ride the bus, please arrange for pick up from Esmond Station K-8.

"All extra curricular activities will be canceled today."

UPDATE 2:12 p.m.

According to Pima County Sheriff's Department, Cienega High school has returned to its normal schedule. The threat from earlier today was deemed not credible, according to PCSD.

Deputies from PCSD were onsite with the Special Enforcement Team, and the PCSD School Resource Officer Unit.

Vail School District has confirmed that student drivers at Empire High School, Vail Innovation Center and Vail Blended campuses were asked to drive themselves home.

Students who are not drivers were sent to Edmond Station K-8 School, 9400 S. Atterbury Wash Way, where they can be picked up or will be given bus rides home, according to the Vail School District.


Multiple campuses within the Vail School District were evacuated Tuesday afternoon after receiving three identical anonymous phone calls about a "bomb on campus," according to a spokesperson from the district.

As of about 12:45 p.m. the district confirmed with KGUN 9 that Desert Sky Middle School, Empire High School, and Cienega High School were coordinating evacuations with law enforcement.

Tucson Police say on social media that "precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of students & staff."

From Vail School District:

"Within the last 30 minutes, we received the same anonymous phone call at Desert Sky Middle School, Empire High School, and Cienega High School that simply stated there was a bomb on campus and the person then hung up.

"We are coordinating with law enforcement who has advised each campus to evacuate buildings as a precaution.

"We are following our standard procedures to ensure all students are safe and buildings are cleared before any return.

"We are working hand in hand with law enforcement on this ongoing investigation.

"We will update as more information becomes available."

KGUN 9 will update this story when more information becomes available.