LAUSD acted on threats of violence with explosive devices, rifles, pistols
Mike Szymanski | December 15, 2015
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An email that threatened violence with “explosive devices, assault rifles and machine pistols” provided LA Unified officials today with the rationale for closing all schools across the district.
Those details and others, which began emerging today, convinced city and school officials that closing schools was the more prudent action, especially in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attack two weeks ago in San Bernardino and the attacks in Paris that proceeded it.
Speaking at a mid-morning press conference, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said an email came to several of the school board members threatening attacks specifically to LA Unified schools, but not any school in particular. He said the email came from Frankfurt, Germany, but it’s origin, he said, “is believed to be from much closer than Germany.”
He said there was an “implied threat of explosive devices and a specific threat of attack with assault rifles and machine pistols.”
The email reached the district late last night, prompting the city to declare a Level 1 security alert.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said the email referenced “violence to students and could come in a number of forms of violence with weapons already in place to bring that violence about.”
Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley, appeared on MSNBC and disclosed several more details from the email, including the writer’s claim to be “a devout Muslim” who had “32 accomplices” with the ability to use “nerve gas.”
In a statement he had issued earlier, Sherman said, “The author claims to be an extremist Muslim who has teamed up with local jihadists. We do not know whether these claims are true or a lie. We do not know whether this email is from a devout Muslim who supports jihadists or perhaps a non-Muslim with a different agenda.”
Officials appearing at the news briefing, including LA Unified’s out-going superintendent, Ramon Cortines, said the investigation of the threat is now being conducted by the LA police and the FBI, with authorities checking all 1,100 district schools, including charters for any problems. Altogether 13 law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation, district officials said.
Police officials said they are still vetting the threat to see if it’s a hoax, which was apparently the case in New York City, which also received an email today threatening the city schools.
In explaining why the decision to close schools was made, Beck said, “These are very high stakes; it’s not like picking the color of a car or what you’re going to eat for dinner.”
Wearing a yellow baseball cap, dark sweater and sneakers, Cortines said, “Students and parents must understand this was done in the best interest of the city.”