New York City

NYC officials say threat that closed LA schools is a hoax

December 15, 2015 By Colleen Long Associated Press
School board member Monica Garcia , right with Los Angeles school police Chief Steve Zipperman speaks to media after officials closed all Los Angeles Unified School District campuses due to an electronic threat on Tuesday  in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Nick Ut
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New York City school officials received the same bomb threat early Tuesday that prompted the closure of the Los Angeles school system, but police quickly concluded that it was a hoax.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that he was “absolutely convinced” that there was no danger to schoolchildren in New York.

“There was nothing credible about the threat,” he said. “It was so generic, so outlandish and posed to numerous school systems simultaneously. There were wording choices and other indicators that suggested a hoax and not anything that we could associate with jihadist activity.”

New York officials were in contact with Los Angeles law enforcement, as well as federal officials and joint terrorism task forces around the country.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said he thinks Los Angeles school officials engaged in a “significant overreaction” by deciding to close the nation’s second-largest school system.

The threat, they said, came in the form of a “generic” email sent to many cities around the country. In New York, it was received by a school superintendent early Tuesday morning.

Bratton said they believe the email originated overseas, and the person who wrote the note claimed to be a jihadist, but made errors that made it clear the person was a prankster, including spelling the word “Allah” with a lowercase “a.”

“That would be an incredible to think any jihadist would not spell Allah with a capital ‘A,'” Bratton said.

Bratton, who once ran the Los Angeles Police Department, quipped that it looked like the sender watched a lot of the Showtime show “Homeland.”

“We cannot allow ourselves to raise levels of fear,” Bratton said.

New York City is the nation’s largest school system with more than 1 million students and is under the control of the mayor. Los Angeles is the second-largest with about 640,000 students and is run independently.

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A threatening email sent to the New York City school superintendent warned that every school in the city would be attacked with pressure cooker bombs, nerve gas agents, machine pistols and machine guns.

The email was sent early Tuesday and said the writer and “138 comrades” would carry out the attack. It said, “The students at every school in the New York City school district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

The anonymous writer claimed to be a student at a district high school who had been bullied.

A law enforcement official with access to the document provided the email to The Associated Press. The official wasn’t authorized to disclose details of an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The White House says the different reactions taken by the nation’s two largest public school systems after receiving threats show that local first-responders are responsible for protecting their communities.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says he won’t “second-guess” the decisions by Los Angeles officials to close their schools and New York City officials to keep their students in class.

Earnest says local authorities make decisions based on information they receive and what they believe is in the best interests of their communities.

He says that the FBI has been in touch with California law enforcement authorities.

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