At least 12 Alaska school districts get fake bomb threats Tuesday
Some schools cancel classes, others ‘didn’t evacuate or cause a disturbance with the students’; no bombs found
At least a dozen school districts across Alaska received bomb threats emailed to them Tuesday, including those in Anchorage, Dillingham and Delta Junction.
“We went into an alert status,” said Shaun Streyle, the Delta Greely School District superintendent. Stryle says that’s a lower-level response than a lock-down or shelter-in-place, so classes remained in session.
“We didn’t evacuate or cause a disturbance with the students,” he said Tuesday.
Alaska Public Media reportedthat other rural districts in Alaska evacuated their buildings due to the threat. Schools were closed in Dillingham and on Annette Island and Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.
Streyle says staff called Alaska State Troopers after he saw the email around 11:30 a.m. that mentioned an explosive device.
“The Alaska State Troopers were here really quick,” he said. “And we did a very thorough walk-through of the buildings and found nothing suspicious. And at the time, we lifted the alert.”
Streyle says the whole ordeal lasted about two hours. He says he had doubts about the credibility of the threat but, regardless, he and other administrators and staff responded to it, and also contacted parents to let them know about it.
“We do take every threat seriously,” he said.
And so do Alaska State Troopers.
“We take all threats against Alaska students very seriously,” said Austin McDaniel, a Trooper spokesperson. “Student safety is a top priority for the Alaska State Troopers, as well as our local law-enforcement partners.”
McDaniel said Tuesday that his agency and the FBI office in Anchorage both launched investigations after officials with multiple school districts across the state reported getting similar threats.
“This was an all-hands-on-deck situation where we immediately began investigating, trying to determine the origin of the threat, as well as if there was any credibility to that threat,” he said.
McDaniel said by late afternoon, Troopers concluded the threats were not credible. But he said his agency’s investigation and the one being conducted by the FBI were ongoing.
“We’re working with our partners with the FBI to determine the origin of this threat,” he said, “and to hold the person that sent this threats to Alaska schools accountable for their actions.”
FBI officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
McDonald said this isn’t the first time that more than one school district in Alaska has gotten threats like these. But not this many.
“This is a larger scale than we have seen here recently, just based on the number of schools and the number of school districts involved,” he said.
Streyle says the Delta-Greely schools also have gotten threats like this before, most recently in May, when the district responded to a very-specific threat by ordering schools to lock down.
“That was more of a credible threat,” he said,” and that was more targeted to a particular school -- even to particular students.”
Streyle said Tuesday’s threats, by comparison, were much less credible.