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Cardozo School Bomb Threat Forces Evacuation
Reports of a bomb planted at Cardozo Middle School caused school officials and police to evacuate and thoroughly search the building on Thursday afternoon but no explosive device was found.

Coming after a similar incident at Oakdale High School that morning and the finding of a grenade at Modesto's Somerset Elementary School the previous Tuesday, the bomb scare in Riverbank disrupted the lives of hundreds of people as students were herded into Community Park opposite the school and parents summoned there to collect their children. More than 600 students attend the school.

The call to the Cardozo office came in at 11:56 a.m. and brought local sheriff's deputies and firefighters at once to the school followed soon after by Sheriff' Department bomb squad experts and search dogs.

"We're looking into the possibility of a connection between the incidents in Riverbank and Oakdale," said Riverbank Police Chief Tim Beck, while noting the voice in the Oakdale incident was female and that at Riverbank male and very muffled, presumably for concealment.

"The evacuation went off very well. We're getting better with practice. We had a couple of deputies from Patterson where they recently had an incident advising us. Even if we suspect it is a hoax, we have to treat it as real. The whole thing was over by 2 p.m."

Beck noted deputies and dogs searched the building room by room, the dogs sniffing for gunpowder and the deputies looking for anything suspicious.

"Our priority was protecting the students, " said Superintendent of Schools Joe Galindo. "Everybody pulled together to deal with the situation. But each time is a challenge. We should be more prepared if it occurs again."

When the alarm was raised, teachers were directed to assemble their students and lead them out of the back door of the building, around the northern side past the school district offices and southwards on Fifth Street to the Community Park.

Word of the incident spread fast as students pulled out their cell phones and the district used its automatic calling system to alert all parents' telephone numbers