POLICE are investigating how a pipe bomb ended up at the edge of Brauer College’s grounds yesterday, triggering the evacuation of the school and nearby businesses.
Specialists from the bomb squad detonated the device about 7.15pm last night after it was discovered next to a Caramut Road bus shelter at the front of the college by a gardener about 2.30pm.
The remains of the device have been sent for forensic testing to determine its contents.
The gardener notified one of the school’s assistant principals, who then contacted police.
About 10 police officers arrived soon after and taped off the bus shelter, diverted traffic and put in place a 100-metre exclusion zone.
Students were moved to the school’s gym and then evacuated after 3pm via the northern end of the school’s driveway away from the location of the bomb.
Police took photos of the silver, baton-like device which were forwarded to the bomb squad in Melbourne.
Sergeant Callum McKinnon, of Warrnambool police, said it was “definitely a pipe bomb”.
A pipe bomb is an improvised explosive device, usually a sealed section of pipe filled with explosive material.
Traffic was diverted at Raglan Parade and Fotheringham Street and the usual bus and parent pick-ups were moved from the front of the school to further north along Caramut Road.
Staff at businesses in the area were either evacuated or told to stay away from windows.
Brauer College principal Jane Boyle praised the school’s staff and students’ actions in the incident, which occurred close to the end of the school day.
“They approached it in a cool and calm way,” Ms Boyle said.
“We took the students to the gym and explained what was going on and why we needed to use the other exits and they were very calm and sensible.
“Our students always rise to the occasion.”
An information night planned at the school has been postponed until 7pm tonight.
The students also praised the teachers, with year 9 student Tatiana Haas saying the teachers were calm and controlled the situation well.
“It was a weird experience,” she said.
“We thought it was just a (bomb) threat.”
Year 9 student Caitlin Doukas said some students joked that it was a bomb scare, only to discover that it really was.
“It’s kind of a bit scary,” she said.
Year 7 student Cassidy Waller said the teachers kept the students informed well and that “everyone stayed calm”.
Police were assisted at the scene by SES volunteers.
Bomb squad members travelled from Melbourne to detonate the pipe bomb. A robot was used to lower the device into sandbags set up near the school’s main gate.
At 7.15pm it was detonated and a loud boom echoed across the school grounds.
Shortly after officers in full safety suits inspected the device close up, before the site was cleared and the investigation handed back to local detectives.