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New School Year, New Bogus Threat at a Princeton Elementary School (Updated)

princeton public schoolsA -pre-recorded computerized message was received at the Riverside Elementary School this morning that is similar to messages received last spring at several Princeton schools.

Just after 10 a.m., a threat was phoned in to the main office at the Riverside Elementary School claiming that a bomb was in the school, police said.

The Princeton Police Department investigated the incident. Police officers, assisted by K-9s, searched the school and everything appeared to be in order. Even though the message appeared to be a bogus hoax threat similar to the others, the police must investigate each threat.

As a result of the investigation this morning, all Princeton Regional Schools were under a “shelter in place” watch until about 11:30 a.m. The Princeton Police Department is continuing to monitor activities at all schools even though the threat was unfounded.

The threat is similar in nature to other recent threats that have been received in Princeton and other areas throughout the state and country.

Princeton Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane sent the following message to parents today:

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students,

Today, at around 10:10 a.m., Riverside Elementary School received a pre-recorded message from a man claiming to have “placed a bomb in a backpack and it will go off in 30 minutes.” This was similar to the pre-recorded messages received by schools in our district last Spring. As with the past incidents, the police were immediately notified. The police K-9 unit was brought to the school to check for any possibilities of a bomb. Simultaneously, all schools were directed to implement Shelter In Place protocols, which keep all students indoors and maintain heightened levels of security.

Based on their investigation, the police believe today’s threat to once again be a hoax known specifically as “swatting.” The 30 minute time reference passed with no incident while the police were investigating the incident, and the Shelter In Place was lifted at approximately 11:05 a.m. for all schools except Riverside. Our police do not believe there is a credible threat today at Riverside or any other school in Princeton. The police are, however, remaining on site at Riverside through the remainder of the day.

Swatting has become more prevalent in New Jersey in the past year and involves contacting an individual or an institution with a false report designed to elicit a response from a SWAT team. The calls can be generated from another state or even another country. There have been a number of similar false reports both nationally and statewide in the past, and the police continue to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to actively investigate them.

I want to thank the police, our administrators, and our staff for their prompt and professional response to the situation we are experiencing today. They are collaborating to ensure the safety of our children and to maintain a calm and productive learning environment in each of our schools.

Dismissal will proceed as normal this afternoon, as will after-school activities.
Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Steve Cochrane

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Membrooks

    “the police must investigate each threat”

    Says who? I certainly wouldn’t expect them to, especially with the growing body of evidence linking this MO to false threats.

    Best way to deal with an annoying attention-seeker is to ignore him.

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