UPDATE: A caller who claimed to have a gun and threatened that “things are going to happen” at Cresskill High School made the district one of five in New Jersey this morning that had schools locked down and searched in separate “swatting” incidents.
Authorities were trying to find connections among tactical team responses to calls in Cranford, Princeton, West Milford and West Orange that they said were similar to Cresskill’s.
A similar scenario played out in Middletown, NY, following a phone-in threat.
A separate incident in South Brunswick was sparked by a misunderstanding over an adult couple who entered a school there.
The blocked-number call to Cresskill came in just after 10 a.m., right around the time of the others, authorities said.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Regional SWAT team and Bomb Squad responded, along with nearly 100 borough and county police, sheriff’s officers and Alpine, Bergenfield, Closter, Demarest, Dumont, Tenafly and Palisades Interstate Parkway police.
“The Cresskill Fire Department/EMS along with OEM and Mutual Aid EMS units assisted at numerous staging and evacuation points as well,” Cresskill Police Chief Edward Wrixon said.
The high school and middle school was locked down, while other district schools were sheltered in place, with no one allowed to go in or out.
Concerned parents were directed to the borough Community Center on Third Street, where Police Chief Edward Wrixon eased their fears.
Students were searched with a combination of portable scanners and wands on their way out of the school.
In addition, an older staffer was brought out and taken to a hospital by ambulance following a diabetic incident.
Students and pupils from all district schools were dismissed early, officials said. Pre-K children were released around 11:30 a.m., with all others to follow at 12:45 p.m.
“Incidents like these are the reason we train and prepare ,” said Wrixon, who vowed that an investigation “continue until the individual responsible for this incident is identified.”
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FROM THE FBI: “Your local police will react on accordance with their protocol if a threat is received and we can determine if it is a hoax or not. We strongly request that no matter what the emergency is, don’t contact that jurisdiction during the emergency. Dispatchers and other emergency personnel are busy investigating and responding to the scene and we don’t want to take their attention away from the situation at hand.”
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WHAT WE THINK: We want to feel that, as Americans, we can solve any crime, catch any miscreant. But swatting has created a treacherous form of terrorism that, sooner or later, could at the very least strike an innocent with a seizure or heart attack caused by the anxiety of such a terrifying moment. READ MORE….
PHOTO: Boyd A. Loving
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