The FBI has been called in to investigate the threat against both school districts
The New York Police Department is investigating a hoax threat against the city’s schools.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Bill Bratton said that New York City schools received the same email that prompted the Los Angeles Unified School District to close all schools earlier on Tuesday.
“It appears to be the same email that was sent to a number of agencies,” Bratton said. “We believe this is a hoax and will investigate it as such.”
He added: “We see no need to take that action here in New York City…. We have to be careful of this. These types of things are intended to create fear.”
Bratton confirmed that the email had been sent from overseas.
Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized that the email clearly seemed to be fake. “It was so generic, so outlandish and posed to numerous schools simultaneously,” he said, adding that authorities saw no reason to close schools in New York.
Earlier Tuesday morning, officials in Los Angeles urged the public not to panic, saying the schools in that district – which have a combined 640,000 students – were shuttered out of an “abundance of caution.”
“I think that it is important that I take the precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” said Superintendent Ramon Cortines at a press conference Tuesday morning.
He added: “Before the day is over, I want every school searched to make sure that it is safe for children and safe for [our staff].”
When asked to elaborate on the nature of the threat, Cortines said: “It was not to one school, not two schools, not three schools but it was many schools. Not specifically identified, but it was many schools, which is why I took the action that I did.” Cortines also explained that the message referenced backpacks and “other packages.”
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He went on to say that he didn’t want to take any chances. “This is a rare threat,” Cortines said. “I think the circumstances in neighboring San Bernardino, what’s happening in the nation, internationally. I as superintendent am not going to take a chance with our students’ lives. What we are doing today is no different from what we always do, but we’re doing it in a mass way.”
Added Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Steve Zimmer: “The education of our kids is incredibly important and the only thing that is more important is their safety.”
The FBI is investigating the threat against both school districts.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an update Tuesday evening, informing parents and students that classes will resume on Wednesday morning. “Some have used words that I think are probably inappropriate like hoax and other things. Whether it’s criminal mischief, whether it’s somebody testing vulnerabilities of multiple cities, we still do not know enough to say definitively,” Garcetti said according to the L.A. Times. “What we do know is that it will be safe for our children to return to school tomorrow.”