NEW YORK (AP/WANE) — Authorities say bomb threats sent to dozens of schools, universities and other locations across the U.S. and Canada appear to be a hoax.
In Columbia City, Northeastern REMC temporarily closed because of a bomb threat. Employees were moved to an offsite location for safety. A search of the building turned up empty.
“We felt like we were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said REMC CEO Eric Jung. “We were not supposed to call police, we were not supposed to leave the building, we are not going to the send the money obviously, there’s not a whole lot you can do.”
The threat at REMC is believed to be related to others across the country.
The Fort Wayne Police Department has been notified of the email threats and issued the following statement: Locally Fort Wayne police have been contacted by some local businesses that have been recipients of those email threats. We have found no credible evidence to support the threats as being valid. As always though, the Fort Wayne Police Department recommends being very aware of your surroundings. Should you notice something that you suspect suspicious or out of place in your known environment, contact law enforcement for proper follow up.
In South Bend, the studios of WNDU, the NBC affiliate, were evacuated after a bomb threat. Nothing was found after a search.
Law enforcement agencies across the country dismissed the threats, which they said were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money and are not considered credible.
Some of the emails had the subject line: “Think Twice.” The sender claimed to have had an associate plant a small bomb in the recipient’s building and that the only way to stop him from setting it off was by making an online payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin.
“We are currently monitoring multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city,” the New York City Police Department’s counterterrorism unit tweeted. “These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide & are NOT considered credible at this time.”
Other law enforcement agencies also dismissed the threats, which were written in a choppy style reminiscent of the Nigerian prince email scam.
The Palm Beach County, Florida, sheriff’s office and the Boise, Idaho, police said they had no reason to believe that threats made to locations in those areas were credible.
The FBI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Across the country, some schools closed early and others were evacuated or placed on lockdown because of the hoax. Authorities said a threat emailed to a school in Troy, Missouri, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of St. Louis, was sent from Russia.
The bomb threats also prompted evacuations at city hall in Aurora, Illinois, the offices of the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, a suburban Atlanta courthouse and businesses in Detroit.
“Organizations nationwide, both public and private, have reported receiving emailed bomb threats today,” Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shannon Banner said. “They are not targeted toward any one specific sector.”
Penn State University notified students via a text alert about threats to a half-dozen buildings and an airport on its main campus in State College, Pennsylvania. In an update, the school said the threat appeared to be part of a “national hoax.”
Officials at Columbine High School in Colorado were dealing Thursday with a bomb threat of a different sort. Students were being kept inside for the rest of the school day after someone called in a bomb threat against the school.
The Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office said the caller claimed to have placed explosive devices in the school and to be hiding outside with a gun.
There is nothing to validate the threat was found at Columbine, where 12 students and a teacher were killed by two students in 1999, according to Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Taplin.
Two dozen other Colorado schools were also temporarily placed on lockout, meaning their doors were locked but classes continued normally, as the threat was investigated.