Threat against Palo Alto school district could be part of nationwide hoax

Law enforcement, FBI investigating emailed threats

Palo Alto Unified became the latest school district to receive an anonymous threat of violence in an email sent to interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks late Thursday evening.

Hendricks reported the threat, which was not specific to the district or any of its schools, in a weekly message Friday afternoon. She wrote that the "anonymous email threat was similar" to ones school districts throughout California and the country have received in recent days.

Dozens of districts in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa counties have received threats, according to news reports. Some schools were placed on lockdown or canceled classes as a result.

Hendricks said she immediately reported the email she received to the Palo Alto Police Department.

"It is believed that the email was again distributed throughout the state and nation; law enforcement continues to work to determine the origin of the emails," she wrote.

Police spokesperson Zach Perron said that Palo Alto Police investigators "determined that it was related to the nationwide series of hoaxes" but do not know where the threat originated.

Palo Alto Police Officer Mike Foley said Friday night that school resource officers were "visible" on campuses after the threat and police sent additional patrol officers to cover the schools.

The FBI's San Francisco office is working with local law enforcement to "determine the validity of the reported school threats within our area of responsibility," the agency tweeted on Monday.

"At this time, they appear to be part of a larger influx of threats and they do not appear to be legitimate."

The Bay Area News Group reported Wednesday that a Swiss cyber group claimed responsibility for "launching a massive school-violence hoax emailed to superintendents across the Bay Area, California and the rest of the country Sunday and Monday, according to an online gaming executive."

A Dallas-based online gaming company, Zonix, reportedly said its domain name was hijacked by Apophis Squad, which also took responsibility for sending hundreds of threats to United Kingdom schools last month.

The local threat comes just two weeks after Palo Alto High School was placed on lockdown for more than an hour as police investigated a shooting threat directed at the school. It was later determined to be a hoax.

Hendricks said the district will "continue to actively look into any communication that voices threat to school safety, and that our staff will continue to be vigilant."


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2018 at 6:32 am

Post the letter.

1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 14, 2018 at 9:53 am

I really hope the Russian trolls are not trying to inspire more school shootings

7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Hacking, scamming, spoofing via online or telephone has reached epidemic proportions. It is disruptive, fraudulent, dangerous. When will government officials at all levels focus on this and give it the major attention it deserves? Doesn’t matter if dismissed as a “hoax.”

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Barcelona tapas restaurant coming to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 7,814 views

Do Palo Altans still love their city? If not, what should the city do?
By Diana Diamond | 27 comments | 1,738 views

Couples: Reading List
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,309 views