Crime

Merced County school targeted by nationwide bomb threat hoax, officials say

Creekside Junior High School in Los Banos was one of many locations around the country to receive false bomb threats Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Creekside Junior High School in Los Banos was one of many locations around the country to receive false bomb threats Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. vshanker@losbanosenterprise.com

Creekside Junior High School in Los Banos was one of many locations around the country to receive false bomb threats Thursday.

The threat was received in an email to the school from a source located in Doha, Qatar, according to a Los Banos Unified School District news release.

The Los Banos Police Department and officials realized “within minutes” that the alleged threat was a hoax email that numerous businesses and organizations were reporting nationwide, Superintendent Mark Marshall said.

The police department did a visual inspection of the school grounds as a precaution and didn’t locate any suspicious items or activity, according to a police department news release, noting a report on the threat is being sent tot he Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Fresno office.

“Subsequently, there is no reason to believe that safety is compromised at Creekside or any of our school sites,” the school district news release states. Marshall said Creekside wasn’t placed on a lockdown because the email was quickly found to be a hoax.

Creekside seemed to be the only business, school or organization in Merced County targeted by the hoax. Officials from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Merced Police Department and Livingston Police Department said they received no reports of a bomb threat Thursday.

However, 10 Fresno-area locations also were targeted in what the FBI reported was a nationwide series of hoax bomb threats.

Most 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, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Fresno police Lt. Mark Hudson confirmed that such threats were received in Fresno and that police were told that emails containing the threats were sent from either Russia or the Netherlands.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office also responded to similar emails.

The Fresno office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, on North Palm Avenue was targeted, along with a tractor business in the 2700 block of West Whitesbrige Avenue; a raisin growers group in the 2400 block of Capitol Street; a business in the 3600 block of West Jennifer Avenue; and a residence in the 10000 block of North Medinah Circle, according to Hudson.

Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said threats were reported at a law office in the 200 block of West Shaw Avenue; a cold storage facility in the 13000 block of South Bethel Avenue; Sunnyside Countrywide Club in southeast Fresno; a propane company in the 2600 block of South Willow Avenue; and at Raisin City School in the 6400 block of West Bowles Avenue.

Threats also have been reported in Modesto, Sacramento and San Luis Obispo.

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