LOS ANGELES — Few details emerged from a press conference held Tuesday morning at Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters on the unfolding investigation into an apparent threat of violence on district schools.
Hours earlier, New York police commissioner William Bratton said New York City schools received a similar, if not the same threat, but that the note was deemed a hoax.
Back in Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck would not confirm or deny that the threat, received Monday evening, was credible or non-credible.
The electronic note threatened possible bombs and violence via the use of assault rifles and machine pistols said to already be in place. The email appears to have been routed through a European country, possibly Germany, but Beck told reporters the origin could be much closer.
The police chief called it “irresponsible” to criticize the decision made by Los Angeles superintendent Ramon Cortines to shutter all schools in the district and when asked to comment on remarks made by Bratton in New York, answered that was between him and the New York police commissioner.
LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the nation, totaling more than 900 schools and nearly 200 charter schools with more than 640,000 students enrolled.
“The school district safeguards three quarters of a million lives everyday,” Beck said. “When they make a decision, they have to take into account the safety of our children of Los Angeles…. These are tough times. Southern California has been through a lot in recent weeks.”
The LAUSD closure raised the eyebrows of some, especially following Bratton’s remarks that New York received a similar notice in which irregularities such as the lowercase “a” in Allah would seem to indicate a non-serious threat. “We do not see that as a credible terrorist threat and we are investigating it as a hoax,” Bratton said during a press conference Tuesday.
Still, in the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino—an Inland Empire city located about 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles—that left 14 dead and even more wounded earlier this month, the region remains on alert.
Businesses remained open given the threat was confined to LAUSD.
Mall operators, as generally is the case in situations such as these, were tight-lipped in their operations and securities strategies in light of the LAUSD decision. Westfield Century City—undergoing an $800 million remodel that’s set to make it a major focal point on Los Angeles’s west side—declined comment through a spokesperson. Other area malls declined immediate comment on whether there was any impact to security measures or other operations at their facilities.
LAUSD police have teamed with workers from across 13 different law enforcement agencies on school searches throughout the district in a mammoth undertaking that makes it unclear when classrooms will be reopened for students.