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L.A. Schools Closed Due to Terror Threat; Update: Hoax?

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced Tuesday morning that all of its schools will be closed for the day due to a terror threat. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that a bomb threat was called in to a school board member, the Los Angeles Times reports.

(Update 12:42 p.m. PST: Fox News reports that a member of the House Intelligence Committee says the threat has been determined to be a hoax.)

Rep. Brad. Sherman (D-CA) has reportedly said (via HotAir) that the threat came from a person who claimed to be a radical Islamist:

I have reviewed the email that was sent to a Los Angeles school board member.

The author claims to be an extremist Muslim who has teamed up with local jihadists. We do not know whether these claims are true or a lie. We do not know whether this email is from a devout Muslim who supports jihadists or perhaps a non-Muslim with a different agenda.

Sherman notes that there is no way yet to verify the claim.

In addition, Sherman told CNN that the threat made a “pornographic reference,” claimed to have access to nerve agents, and said there were 32 accomplices in the plot.

The threat was apparently made “electronically,” via an IP address in Germans, and concerned student safety at an unspecified number of schools.

The announcement came in the middle of the morning commute, at about 7:00 a.m., as many area children were boarding buses or already walking to school.

Parents who had already dropped their children off were asked to return and to fetch their children at approved locations.

School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the threat, which involved backpacks and other packages was aimed “to not one school, but to many schools in this school district.”

Cortines stated he wanted all schools searched by the end of the day on Tuesday so the students could attend school on Wednesday, according to USA Today.

Over 640,000 students are enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s over 900 schools and 187 public charter schools; the district is the second largest in the country.

The LAPD told members of the media that the police had received a threat “that mentions the safety of our schools.” The threat is “still being analyzed,” but was made directly to the LAUSD, and not to other school districts, police said.

Jorge Villegas of the LAPD said that the FBI had joined local law enforcement authorities to examine if the threat had “validity,” adding, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our kids.”

Cortines acknowledged that the district receives threats “all the time.”

Cortines added: “This is a rare threat, we get threats all the time….What we are doing today is no different to what we normally do, but we are doing it on a mass scale.”

KTLA later reported Cortines as saying that the threat had come from “overseas.”

When asked why the threat was more credible, he answered, “I think the circumstances in neighboring San Bernardino,” according to NBC Los Angeles.

School Board President Steve Zimmer appealed to the entire city for cooperation, asking employers to show “maximum flexibility with your employees, who are mothers and fathers and guardians today.”

Los Angeles schools were also closed during the Rodney King riots of 1992.

CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen said that the incident was “linked to the continuing rise of Donald Trump in the polls,” in the sense that people worried about terror are boosting his support.

New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who used to lead the LAPD, told NBC 4 that New York schools had received a similar threat but found it to be “not credible.”

William Bigelow and Lee Stranahan contributed to this report. Check back for frequent updates.

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