Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office says threat to schools 'likely a hoax'

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported that threats delivered by email to some county schools Monday were “likely a hoax, possibly perpetrated by a group of hackers outside the United States.”

In a news release distributed Monday evening, the Sheriff’s Office reported many agencies got involved and many security measures were taken after the emailed threats were received at about 11:15 a.m. Monday, April 9.

An investigation revealed that similar messages were sent to other counties and jurisdictions in California and possibly to other states, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Although the threat communicated to the Department appears to be a hoax; all threats are taken seriously by our Department and other agencies in the county,” Sheriff Jon Lopey states in the release. “The impacted school districts, especially in Scott Valley and Tulelake, our dispatch, field, management, administration, and Major Crimes Unit personnel, our partner law enforcement agencies, including police and the CHP, rapidly responded to a possible threat that we had no way of knowing was legitimate or not in the earlier moments and hours of this response effort. We are relieved no threat materialized into acts of violence against our kids, dedicated school employees, and first responders. This Department has conducted hundreds of additional school security checks in recent weeks and we will continue to do so to raise the security posture of our schools. We will continue to work with your allied-agency counterparts and school officials to identify and mitigate threats to students, school, staff and the citizens we serve. Any threat verbalized or communicated or suspicious activities that potentially threaten our schools should be taken seriously and reported to your local law enforcement agency or the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900. An immediate threat should be reported by dialing 9-1-1.”

The Sheriff’s Office reported the following information in its news release:

The emailed threat claimed that an unidentified person had been bullied at school and was ‘coming to school with 3 bombs and a .22 hand gun (sic)…’ The sender claimed staff, students and law enforcement would be shot or suffer other injuries and bombs would be detonated. Initially, reports were directed to Scott Valley and Tulelake schools. SCSO initiated an immediate response in response to the possible threat.

Etna and Tulelake Police Departments were contacted and requested to provide security at their city schools, which was done. The schools in the impacted areas were requested to “lockdown” and deputies were dispatched to provide security at those schools in the Scott Valley area. A “CODE RED,” a dispatch-generated message was broadcast throughout the county to alert citizens via electronic, Internet, or telephonic means, that proactive security measures were underway to safeguard students, faculty, staff, and others at impacted schools and to emphasize the fact that threat was not validated by any existing information or evidence.

SCSO dispatched deputies to the schools outside the target area and made security checks to raise the safety profile countywide. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies were alerted. The California Counter Intelligence Center in Sacramento was alerted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was also notified of the threat.

Etna High School, Etna Elementary, Quartz Valley Elementary, Fort Jones Elementary, Scott Valley Elementary, Tulelake schools, and Scott River High School were placed on “lockdown.”