School threat email promised bombs, nerve gas agents

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City school officials received the same bomb threat early Tuesday that prompted the closure of the Los Angeles school system, but police quickly concluded that it was a hoax.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that he was "absolutely convinced" that there was no danger to schoolchildren in New York and said no serious thought was given to canceling classes.

The threatening email, sent to a New York City school superintendent, warned that every school in the city would be attacked by the writer and "138 comrades" armed with pressure cooker bombs, nerve gas agents and machine guns.

"The students at every school in the New York City school district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it," it said.

The anonymous writer claimed to be a devout Muslim student at one of the high schools in the district who had been bullied, and out of anger had "teamed up with a local jihadist cell."

The email was provided to the AP by a law enforcement official with access to the document. The official was not authorized to disclose details of an ongoing investigation and provided the letter on condition of anonymity.

De Blasio said the threat wasn't credible.

"It was so generic, so outlandish and posed to numerous school systems simultaneously. There were wording choices and other indicators that suggested a hoax and not anything that we could associate with jihadist activity," he said.

New York officials were in contact with Los Angeles law enforcement, as well as federal officials and joint terrorism task forces around the country.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said he thinks Los Angeles school officials engaged in a "significant overreaction" by deciding to close the nation's second-largest school system.

The Los Angeles schools system, after getting a threatening email around the same time, sent its 640,000 students home as a precaution.

Bratton said investigators believe the email originated overseas. While the person who wrote the note claimed to be a jihadist, he made errors that made it clear the person was a prankster, including once spelling the word "Allah" with a lowercase "a."

"That would be an incredible to think any jihadist would not spell Allah with a capital 'A,'" Bratton said.

Bratton, who once ran the Los Angeles Police Department, quipped that it looked like the sender watched a lot of the Showtime show "Homeland."

"We cannot allow ourselves to raise levels of fear," Bratton said.

New York City is the nation's largest school system with more than 1 million students and is under the control of the mayor. Los Angeles is the second-largest school system and is run independently.

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