Los Angeles Unified School District schools close due to terror threat

Threat that closed down L.A. schools appears to be a hoax, congressman says



LOS ANGELES (KRON) — All Los Angeles Unified School District schools are closed Tuesday as police investigate a possible terror threat.

A law enforcement official says the threat was emailed to a school board member late Monday and appeared to come from overseas. The LA school district said their schools will reopen Wednesday.

A House intelligence committee member says the threat that shut down the Los Angeles school system today is believed to be a hoax. Democrat Adam Schiff says a preliminary investigation indicates that the threats received by officials in Los Angeles and New York were designed to disrupt school districts in large cities.

The electronic threat involved backpacks with explosives against several schools, the District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a press conference.

Superintendent Cortines said the threat was against students, not just a single campus. He says the schools commonly get threats but called this one rare.

District Superintendent Ramon Cortines
District Superintendent Ramon Cortines

New York City officials say they received the same threat, but quickly concluded that it was a hoax. New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said he thought the school closure was a “significant overreaction.”

The person who wrote the note, The person who wrote the note, Bratton said, claimed to be a jihadist but made errors that indicated the writer was really a prankster, including spelling the word “Allah” with a lowercase “a.”

Bratton also commented that the sender of the threat watched a lot of the Showtime terrorism drama “Homeland.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that he was “absolutely convinced” there was no danger and called the threat “outlandish.”

District spokeswoman Shannon Haber said the threat was sent by email to a school board member and was believed to have come from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany.

All 1,100 schools in the Los Angeles district are being searched by police. Cortines said that after the schools are searched, he and the board would decide whether or not classes will resume Wednesday.

“I’m not taking a chance to bring (students into a school) until I know it is safe,” Cortines said.

The district, the second-largest in the nation, has 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and more than 900 schools and 187 public charter schools.

The district spans 720 square miles including Los Angeles and all or part of more than 30 smaller cities and some unincorporated areas.

Officials are notifying parents to keep their children at home.

The decision was also influenced by the recent act of terrorism in San Bernardino. The shooting just 70 miles east of Los Angeles left 14 people dead and 21 other injured.

Stay with KRON4 for updates on this breaking news story.

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