Hoax bomb threats lead to lockdowns and evacuations in dozens of elementary and high schools across both the US and UK on Monday.
In the UK thousands of children in at least 21 schools were evacuated after bomb threats were phoned in to police. One anonymous caller said that the resulting shrapnel would “take children’s heads off.”
Classes resumed only after police failed to find any explosives or other dangerous items.
Today, nine more UK schools in Devon, North Wales, Northern Ireland, South Lanarkshire and across central Scotland were evacuated following malicious phone threats.
The threats led to the evacuations of schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.
A wave of threats directed at schools in 12 states across the nation forced authorities to lock down or evacuate. https://t.co/eIOQXIULPW
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 24, 2016
Media outlets in the United Kingdom also reported evacuations at dozens of schools up and down in that nation.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) May 23, 2016
Some officials described the calls received as automatic or robotic. Schools in Denver and Minnesota received their threat just before noon local time on Monday, with another school in Minnesota receiving theirs around 12:15 pm.
“We have let all law enforcement know we are ready to help, should they need our assistance,” said Deborah Sherman, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who also said in a statement that the agency is monitoring the situation.
“There is no doubt these calls drain public safety resources and can prevent and delay responses to actual emergencies,” she added.
Students were sent home at Murray High School outside Salt Lake City while bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in. No explosives were found.
Officials told the Associated Press the threats could be the latest examples of so-called “swatting” against schools. In recent months, hoaxers playing online games have allegedly used proxy servers and other high-tech identity-disguising tools to anonymously threaten schools online or in phone messages, using electronic voices to trigger a huge police response, even SWAT teams.
Six schools were evacuated in Delaware. Several school administrators described the threat as being made by a male voice.
“It is believed that this automated threat is connected to several others received by schools throughout the state of Delaware,” Cpl. Brian Donner, a spokesman for Smyrna Police Department, told Delaware online.
Delaware state police, however, said it’s unknown whether these bomb threats are related to a string of calls received across the state in January and early February.