‘Swatting’ threats at three schools linked to others
LAWRENCE » Investigators are probing a “swatting” incident that targeted at least a half-dozen schools across the state, including three in the township, Lawrence Police Chief Brian Caloiaro said.
The phoned-in threats at three township schools came within minutes of each other, leading to evacuations at Ben Franklin Elementary and Lawrencville School on Route 206.
Lawrenceville Elementary School on Craven Lane was also locked down after a secretary received a call at 10:30 a.m. from someone saying a man with a rifle was headed for the school, Caloiaro said.
District schools, along with Notre Dame High School and St. Ann’s School, were also locked down as a precaution, and a police officer was deployed to each school, Lawrence superintendent Ross Kasun said in a letter to parents.
The schools were swept by police dogs, and the threats were determined to be unfounded, the police chief said. The lockdown was lifted at 11:50 a.m., the superintendent said.
“We greatly appreciate our excellent local law enforcement and the support they provide us,” Kasun wrote. “The department responded immediately and assisted us throughout the morning. Also and as trained, our staff did everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff.”
Caloiaro said disturbing calls were also made to at least three other schools across the state within hours of each other.
Linden High School, County Prep High School and McNair Academic High School in Jersey City were also targeted, according to NJ.com.
Police believe they’re all linked as they involved the same or a similar number.
Authorities tried but couldn’t trace the calls, the police chief said.
He said the FBI isn’t involved in the investigation at this point.
The first bomb threat at Ben Franklin Elementary School came in around 10:25, indicating there were six bombs on campus, police said.
Five minutes later, the same caller contacted Lawrenceville Elementary School indicating a gunman was headed for the school.
The last call to the Lawrenceville prep school also indicated the presence of pipe bombs, according to an alert obtained by The Trentonian.
The district assured parents their children were safe and asked them not to go to the schools.
Steve Murray, the headmaster at the private boarding school, notified parents around 11:15 that the school received a phoned-in threat.
The boarding school was evacuated following the bomb threat but “100 percent” of students were accounted for after they were led through the woods and relocated to the Bristol Meyers Squibb facility, Murray said.
Students were cleared to return to campus after it was deemed safe, according to the school’s website. Classes and sports were canceled for the rest of the day.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Lawrence Police Detective Sean Kerins at 609-844-7121
Ben Franklin Elementary School.