All Los Angeles Unified School District campuses have been evacuated after a ‘credible threat’ of terrorism involving backpacks and packages was received. It is believed that the threat was made via email to an IP address traced to Frankfurt, Germany.
The LAUSD have asked police to search all schools in Los Angeles before reopening them on Wednesday, as the FBI investigate.
Authorities in New York received a similar email but decided it was a hoax and did not respond.
“I think it’s important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.
“What we are doing today is no different than what we normally do, except that we are doing it in a mass way,” he added.
New York authorities were also responding to a threat made to city schools, but said it was not credible and that they were concerned about overreacting.
“These threats are made to promote fear…we can not allow us to raise the levels of fear,” New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton tweeted.
He added that the agency was working closely with the FBI and the LAPD.
The massive closure across the Los Angeles region comes less than two weeks after two shooters killed 14 people in San Bernardino in what was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
Officials said the threat was aimed at numerous but unspecified campuses. As a result, they made the decision to close all campuses for the day.
“The threat is still being analyzed,” Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman said. “We have chosen to close our schools today until we can be sure our campuses are safe.”
Students who already arrived at school will be supervised until parents can pick them up, officials said. LAUSD ordered parents and guardians to bring identification with them.
Brian Levin, a terror expert at Cal State San Bernardino, said the closure was unprecedented and could embolden others to make future threats.
“In today’s environment it makes sense to err on the side of safety, even though they almost always are hoaxes,” he said.
As families scrambled to reroute their days, many students could be found outside in their neighborhoods.
Ana Rodriguez, a sixth-grader at Sunrise Elementary School in Boyle Heights, walked with her older sister to pick up some coffee and bread for an unexpected breakfast at home.
The 11-year-old worried about her teachers and was nervous at the thought of returning to school the next day. “I’m scared that a bomb could explode at my school,” she said. Miguel Real, 13, rode his skateboard in Highland Park, having just been sent home from Burbank Middle School. He was on his way to tell the news to his mother who had known nothing about classes being canceled. “She’s going to freak,” he said.
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