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FBI investigates school threats in Flathead

FBI investigates school threats in...

MISSOULA, Mont. - Multiple schools were closed in northwest Montana Thursday after school districts received threats via text message.

In an interview with NBC Montana, Sheriff Chuck Curry said the initial threat, via text or email, was received by Columbia Falls, and other area schools soon began to receive similar threats.

"We have been working on it all night in a joint investigation with Columbia Falls Police Department and the FBI,” said Curry.  

Curry would not elaborate on the nature of the threats.  He explained that would be kept private to help identify suspects.

Curry said there are persons of interest, and investigators are currently interviewing them as well as following up on what he described as “electronically stored information.”

“In light of other incidents that have been happening both regionally and nationally, we take these threats very seriously,” Curry said.  He declined to say what made investigators think the threats were credible. 

Steve Bradshaw, the superintendent of Columbia Falls schools, would not elaborate on what the threats were but he told NBC Montana Wednesday night that his main concern is the safety of students and staff, so he canceled all classes for Thursday.

Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau sent parents a message saying the Columbia Falls School District received threats Wednesday specifically targeting schools in their district. He says other schools in Flathead County were included in or received additional threats.
  
County Superintendent of Schools Jack Eggensperger did not elaborate on the nature of the threats but said they are being investigated by law enforcement.

All schools in Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Whitefish, Evergreen, West Valley and Bigfork were closed Thursday, according to Eggensperger. 

The Flathead Valley Community College campus was closed, and classes were canceled Thursday. All offices and the Early Childhood Center are also closed.

Also, as a precaution, Growing in God’s Love Childcare and Preschool and the Flathead Gymnastics Academy are closed. 

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The following is a press release is from Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry:

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia Falls Police Department and the FBI began a joint investigation yesterday evening following a series of electronic threats that area schools began receiving.  The threats started with the Columbia Falls school district and eventually spread throughout the evening and early morning hours to other area schools.  All the threats were text or email. 

As a precautionary measure, several area schools cancelled classes today.  Investigators from all the involved agencies have worked throughout the night, and are continuing to follow up on leads and have identified and are speaking with persons of interest. 

Extra patrols of area schools are currently taking place from all law enforcement agencies.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Flathead County Detective Division at 758-5610.

This joint investigation is ongoing, and further information will be released as it becomes available. 

Here is the full list of closures:

Public

Status

BIGFORK ELEMENTARY

Closed

BIGFORK HIGH SCHOOL

Closed

CAYUSE PRAIRIE

Closed

COLUMBIA FALLS ELEMENTARY

Closed

COLUMBIA FALLS HIGH SCHOOL

Closed

CRESTON

Closed

DEER PARK

Closed

EVERGREEN

Closed

FAIR-MONT-EGAN

Closed

FLATHEAD HIGH SCHOOL

Closed

GLACIER HIGH SCHOOL

Closed

HELENA FLATS

Closed

KALISPELL ELEMENTARY

Closed

KALISPELL MIDDLE SCHOOL

Closed

KILA

Closed

MARION

Closed

OLNEY-BISSELL

Closed

PLEASANT VALLEY

Open

SMITH VALLEY

Closed

SOMERS/LAKESIDE

Closed

SWAN RIVER

Closed

WEST GLACIER

Closed

WEST VALLEY

Closed

WHITEFISH ELEMENTARY

Closed

WHITEFISH HIGH SCHOOL

Closed


Private

Status

KALISPELL MONTESSORI

Closed

ST. MATTHEW'S

Closed

STILLWATER CHRISTIAN

Closed

TRINITY LUTHERAN

Closed

WHITEFISH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

Closed

WOODLAND MONTESSORI

Closed

 

 


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