The entire Los Angeles school district closed Tuesday because of a terror threat, but a congressman on the House Intelligence Committee said it was all a hoax.
The Los Angeles Police Department and district officials have been investigating the threat since Monday night, but the superintendent didn’t learn of it until Tuesday morning, shortly before he made the decision to close the schools.
New York schools received the same threat by email, but Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, said the letter was too generic to be taken seriously. Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff told the Los Angeles Times that the letter didn’t appear to be real.
“The preliminary assessment is that it was a hoax or something designed to disrupt school districts in large cities. The investigation is ongoing as to where the threat originated from and who was responsible.”
The threat comes two weeks after a mass shooting in nearby San Bernardino claimed the lives of 14 people and left another 22 wounded.
During a mid-morning news conference, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck defended the decision to close the Los Angeles schools, saying criticism of the decision was “irresponsible,” according to Fox 5 San Diego.
“The school district safeguards three quarters of a million lives every day. When they make a decision, they have to take into account the safety of the children of Los Angeles. Southern California has been through a lot in recent weeks. Should we risk putting our children through the same?”
Someone claiming to be the victim of bullying who was also a radicalized Muslim allegedly wrote the threat; it listed all Los Angeles schools as potential targets, but implied high schools would be hit first.
The letter claimed explosives had already been planted in backpacks left at the schools, and attackers armed with AK-47’s would swarm the area to cause further chaos and loss of life. The threat claimed 32 other attackers would join in the assault.
The announcement to close the nation’s second largest school district and its more than 900 public schools along with 187 charter schools was made at 6:30 a.m.; it affected some 700,000 students.
Some students had already left home by the time the announcement was made, and those who arrived at school were supervised until they could be picked up. After-school events were also cancelled.
The mass school closure also affected nearby private schools, which decided to close their door out of an abundance of caution. Other schools that were further away from their public counterparts decided to remain open although with a modified schedule including having recess inside instead of outside.
Final exams had been scheduled for Tuesday, and the school closure left many students celebrating although at least one teacher assigned homework despite the closure.
Tragically, a 17-year-old student was struck and killed by a city service truck as he crossed the street near his school at 7:30 a.m. He had just been accepted to the film school at Cal State L.A.
The L.A. school terror threat was routed through Germany, but authorities say it could have been written by someone much closer.
The decision to close the schools left many Los Angeles parents in the lurch and unsure of what to do with children who would normally be in school. Many arrived late to work or were forced to stay home entirely while others scrambled to find childcare.
Authorities continue to investigate the threat, and the Inquisitr will keep you updated with developments.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]