Obama seeks to calm Americans’ fears, even as threats rattle schools
Miami and Houston schools open with extra police as threats spur ‘caution’.
MIAMI — School districts from Florida to California reported receiving threats Thursday similar to those that closed Los Angeles’ massive school system earlier this week, though in most cases students attended class without interruption.The emails sent to Miami-Dade and Broward Public Schools — called “less than credible” by federal law enforcement — threaten to use pressure cookers as backpack bombs to blow up campus buildings, contained grammatical errors and originated in Europe, a source familiar with the investigation said.The email that prompted this week’s closure of the LA Unified School District claimed to be from a bullied Muslim student planning to exact revenge with the help of a “local jihadist cell.” On Monday, LAUSD cancelled classes for more than 640,000 students after a school board member opened an email warning of elaborate attacks at every single one of the district’s 900 schools.
He said the district has been working with federal, state and local authorities after several board members received threatening emails Wednesday night. After evaluating the message’s grammatical errors, hazy references to Islam, and outlandish plot, New York City police commissioner William Bratton dismissed it as a hoax conceived by someone watching too much “Homeland.” Something big is going down. The closure of a large U.S. district because of threats is rare, and the move in Los Angeles — with the nation’s second-largest school system — reflected the lingering unease in Southern California after the attack that killed 14 people at a holiday luncheon two weeks ago in San Bernardino.
In Texas, officials called parents’ homes through an automated system, disclosing the threat, and adding, “As a precautionary measure … law enforcement officers are currently conducting random sweeps of school district buildings to ensure student safety,” the Houston Chronicle reported. Some of the districts affected by the latest threats are among the nation’s largest — Miami ranks fourth, Fort Lauderdale’s Broward County system is sixth, Houston seventh, Orlando 10th and Dallas 14th. According to the statement, such threats were also made to Broward County Public Schools, Houston Independent School District and those in Dallas, Orange County and Long Beach. “Sadly, it’s becoming the new normal. The district’s police department activated its emergency response protocol and began working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure the schools were safe, though no credible threat was found.
In a statement released by Miami-Dade Schools earlier, officials said, in part, “Notwithstanding this less than credible threat, it is the district’s responsibility to share this information with the community. The husband and wife alleged perpetrators are believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State, though are not thought to have had any contact with the terror group, according to Reuters.
We could possibly be the victims of a terrorist attack and they’re continuing school that’s crazy,” said 10th grader Christi Castillo. “It’s dangerous right now and we don’t know what to expect so we want Dade County Schools to monitor our children and I’m sure Mr. At a hastily called news conference on the ninth-floor command center for Miami-Dade Schools, Carvalho told many still-worried parents that procedures are in place to protect their children. “We ought to be vigilant. Carvalho will protect us,” said parent Lacharn Wilson. “We activated additional security…just to be on the safe side,” said Ian Moffett with Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department. “We can’t do this alone. While Miami-Dade sent out an email blast at 12:30 a.m. and kept parents in the loop all morning, Broward sent out a single tweet at 6:30 in the morning. “One of the things I don’t want to do in Broward County is to create anxiety, hysteria over hoax that we receive in the county,” said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
In Orlando, Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the threatening email was sent to the district’s general email late Wednesday, and principals have been asked to stay alert and keep students calm. Despite the assurances from Carvalho, some parents remained on edge Thursday, declaring — many through social media — that they had no intention of sending their children to school. Danville Police Chief William Wright said a third threat was posted on social media early Thursday, and it was apparently tied to the threat against Plainfield schools.
Tops among them: The first A in Allah was not capitalized, the threats were not specific to places and the email threatened every school in New York, which has one million students. This article includes comments from the Public insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their insights with the Miami Herald and WLRN. Associated Press writers Diana Heidgerd and David Warren in Dallas, Mike Graczyk in Houston and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report. If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.
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