Terror Day: LA Closes Schools After 'Credible' Bomb Threat, But Congressman Calls It 'A Hoax'

  • by: Alan Duke

UPDATE 6:11pET: Los Angeles school superintendent announces classes will resume Wednesday.

UPDATE 4pET: The emailed bomb threat that closed down Los Angeles public schools was a hoax, according to the top ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Rep. Adam Schiff, whose congressional district is in Los Angeles, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying investigators have decided the threat was not credible.

An email from Germany threatening bomb attacks caused all 900 public schools in Los Angeles, California, to abruptly close Tuesday, but New York City officials who received the same message decided it was a hoax and kept their campuses open.

While the Los Angeles school superintendent called it a "credible" bomb threat against "many schools," Mayor Bill DeBlasio said it was "so generic, so outlandish" that it suggested it was a hoax. New York City is the largest school district in the United States with 1,600 schools.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, whose last job was running the Los Angeles Police Department, noted that Los Angeles school officials decided to close schools without consulting their local police agencies. Commissioner Bratton told reporters that "many" agencies got the same email and determined it was not a real threat.

A California congressman who has seen the email told CNN that the author "claims they were prepared to take terrible action today," but their "details lack credibility."

The "reasons to doubt" the threat is real include "claims to be an extremist Muslim jihadist" and "claims to have 32 accomplices, claims to have nerve agents."

The email has "a pornographic reference to a body part" which would not be consistent with a jihadists, Rep. Brad Sherman said.

Another hint: "Allah" was written "allah." A Jihadist would have likely made sure to capitalized it.

The warning, which was sent in an email from Frankfurt, Germany, to a school board member, mentioned backpack bombs. "It was not to one school, two schools or three schools," School Superintendent Ramon Cortines told reporters. "It was many schools, not specifically identified."

The writer identified himself as a devout Muslim who had attended a Los Angeles high school and had been bullied while he was there, according to a New York Times report.

Parents received automated phone calls telling them to keep their children away from campuses. Those who didn't get the message found a note written in English and Spanish on school doors that read: "School is closed today, December 15, 2015. Please listen to the news to find out if school will be closed tomorrow."

The decision to close the second-largest U.S. school district, which serves more than 600,000 students, came less than two weeks after the terror attack in nearby San Bernardino that killed 14 people and blamed on ISIS sympathizers.

"I am not taking the chance of bringing children any place, into any part of the building, until I know it is safe," Superintendent Cortines said.

School yards were empty and no significant police presence was seen at many of the campuses across Los Angeles Tuesday.

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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