What Is An Electronic Threat?

On Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) closed all schools after receiving an electronic threat. Some outlets, like the Los Angeles Times, are reporting that it was a bomb threat, while others are calling it unspecified. The LAPD has called the threat "credible" and school officials have decided to shut down all schools in an abundance of caution. While the LAPD and the FBI investigate the ongoing situation, it's worth knowing what an electronic threat is exactly and whether the specific format factors into the possible motive behind the threat.

According to LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines, the school system received an electronic threat in the form of a message that mentioned "backpacks, talked about other packages." He told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday morning that though the school system receives threats all the time, "this was a rare threat."

I think it is important that I take the precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past. Before the day is over, I want every school searched to make sure that it is safe for children and safe for staff to be there on Wednesday.

As a result, more than 1,100 schools were shut down and more than 650,000 students stayed home on Tuesday.

While officials have not provided further details about the contents of the electronic message, one law enforcement source has confirmed that the message was sent as an email and that it appeared to come from overseas. The Associated Press reports that the message was sent late Monday night to an LAUSD board member, but did not give the individual's identity.

Tuesday's closing was the district's first full closure in at least a decade and appears unprecedented in its scale and severity. LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday morning:

It was not to one school, two schools or three schools, it was many schools. ... I am not taking the chance of taking children anyplace into the building until I know it's safe.

According to a Department of Homeland Security bomb threat checklist document, most bomb threats are made over the phone, but if one should receive an email threat, they are instructed not to delete the message.