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School Districts In N.J., Mass. On Lockdown After Receiving Threats

Emergency officials were at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey on Tuesday morning. Fair Lawn was one of nine districts in Bergen and Passaic counties that received threats.
Emergency officials were at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey on Tuesday morning. Fair Lawn was one of nine districts in Bergen and Passaic counties that received threats. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

HACKENSACK, N.J. – Schools in nine districts around Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey were on lockdown Tuesday morning after threats were received at each — and similar events were reported in Massachusetts, Delaware and Iowa.

As of 10:50 a.m., Garfield, N.J., was evacuating all 12 of its school buildings so they can be swept by police dogs, officials said. Bergenfield, Leonia, Teaneck and Tenafly were cleared and the lockdowns lifted as of 10:50 a.m.

The Bergen County Bomb Squad was also examining a suspicious package found in Teaneck.

Schools in Englewood, Clifton, Hackensack, Teaneck, Tenafly, Bergenfield, Fair Lawn, Garfield and Leonia all received threats. Law enforcement sources said the threats all appear to have come from the same phone.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino said it was an apparent swatting incident.

"All came from the same Skype number," he said.

Clifton School officials received a bomb threat through a voicemail early Tuesday, Detective Sgt. Robert Bracken said.

The voicemail said a bomb would be placed in one of the Clifton schools, and also threatened a mass shooting, which the caller said would take place some time Tuesday, Bracken said.

Saudino said the New Jersey State Police and other agencies were sending K-9 units to assist.

Schools in several other states also reported threats Tuesday morning, including Massachusetts, Delaware and Iowa, according to Fox News . It was not clear whether the threats were linked. In the Greater Boston area, lockdowns were confirmed in eight school districts, Fox News said.

On Oct. 23, all of the 17 public schools in Fairfield were placed on lockdown after receiving threats that turned out to be false.

Armed police and first responders descended on the schools, along with crowds of concerned parents.

Fairfield ended up releasing all of its 10,000 students that day on early dismissal.

Police Lt. James Perez said it was the first time an incident of this size had happened in town.

"We have never had an incident in the schools of this magnitude," he said. It was a "monumental" task to clear and secure the 17 school buildings. Fairfield police had help from other police agencies to assist.

The threats came during what police called a "swatting" incident, when callers report false information of possible violent activity or threats in order to see a police tactical response.

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