BOSTON (CBS) — At least 15 communities in Massachusetts had confirmed bomb threats to schools Tuesday, State Police said.
“Nothing hazardous was found at any of those schools,” State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said in a statement.
“Some of the bomb threats were made by phone. Of those, some were made through automated calls. The specific language of the threats are not being released at this time.”
Schools in Groton, Weymouth, Taunton, Arlington, Plymouth, Waltham, Ayer, Tewksbury, Newton, Billerica, Swampsott, Boston, Kingston and Westford (Nashoba Valley Tech) all received threats, according to Procopio.
The FBI confirmed they are assisting state and local authorities in identifying the threats.
“The Governor’s Office takes these threats very seriously and will remain in close communication with public safety officials,” said Gov. Charlie Baker’s office in a statement.
At least nine schools in New Jersey have also reported receiving bomb threats, though it is unclear if those threats are related.
Tim Scott, Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the threats must be thoroughly investigated, even if authorities do not believe they are credible.
“Even when they are low level incidents like this where we’re getting robocalls or continually seeing computerized threats, you can’t just dismiss them. You need to do something reasonable,” Scott said.
Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan elaborated on the threats, saying that someone said a backpack would explode and remaining students would be shot.
“Those that are responsible for these threats are committing serious felonies, disrupting learning in communities throughout this commonwealth, and I have a high degree of confidence they’ll be identified, and prosecuted for the felonies they’ve committed,” said Chief Ryan. “This is extremely disruptive to our communities.”
These threats come just days after several Massachusetts schools were closed due to similar threats. On Friday, BC High in Dorchester, Arlington Catholic High School, and Abigail Adams Middle School in Weymouth were closed, and other threats were reported in Mashpee and Falmouth.
In Arlington, where more than 1,300 students were evacuated, Arlington Police K-9 units helped to clear the school Tuesday morning. They later said several unattended backpacks were searched and cleared, and that the threats were unfounded. They declared the school safe to re-enter around noon. It was the second bomb threat the department responded to in the last week.
Taunton Public Schools Superintendent Julie Hackett said in an email to parents that the school system had received the automated messages, but that no evacuations were made due to the fact that the threats were general in nature and not specific to Taunton schools.
Billerica Public Schools tweeted that sweeps of their schools came up with no evidence leading to the validity of the threats.
In Groton, where the Florence Roche School was also evacuated, students were taken to Nissitissit Middle School in Pepperell, where parents were welcome to pick them up.
Plymouth Schools Superintendent Gary Maestas said in a statement that the school system was working with Plymouth Police to address the threats they received Tuesday morning.
“We take this extremely seriously and will use every resource available to us to aid the Plymouth Police to track down the originator of this threat,” Maestas said.
In Massachusetts, anyone convicted of making a bomb threat faces prison time, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
The Middleton, New Hampshire Police Department also reported that Framingham High School had been evacuated after receiving threats, but that all students were safe.