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Blaine schools closed after email threat – later identified as hoax

A reader board at Blaine High School is blank as all Blaine schools closed Friday, Feb. 23, after school officials received an apparently credible threat to students and staff on the campus
A reader board at Blaine High School is blank as all Blaine schools closed Friday, Feb. 23, after school officials received an apparently credible threat to students and staff on the campus pdwyer@bhamherald.com

All five Blaine schools were closed Friday after a threat was made against the campus, officials said.

By 10 a.m. Friday, school officials and Blaine Police were confident the warning of violence “mirrors” a threat that authorities said originated in New Mexico and has been discounted as bogus.

“This image has indeed been surfacing in multiple jurisdictions across the country,” Blaine school officials said at the district website. “We are continuing to work with local law enforcement to determine, if possible, whether there are options for identifying an intermediate source, or the party responsible for forwarding the detail to the Blaine School District.”

The threat, which was circulated widely across social media, referenced a “BHS.” Law enforcement determined that the threat was directed at Belen High School in New Mexico. The person suspected of producing the threat has been taken into custody.

Bremerton High School also canceled classes Friday, believing the acronym to be connected to the schools. Bethel High School wrote on its Facebook page Thursday night that they determined the threat was not related to them and class would still be in session Friday.

An email was received late Thursday warning of a “threat to safety of those on the Blaine campus,” the school said at its website and in automated phone calls to parents and staff.

“While we await the analysis of the authenticity of the threat, it has been determined that, in the primary interest of the welfare of staff, students and patrons of the Blaine School District, all schools in the Blaine School District will be closed on Friday, February 23rd,” the district notice said. “Any additional details specific to this matter will be released under the jurisdiction and direction of the Blaine Police Department.”

Blaine School District offices across the street from the main campus remained open Friday with a handful of staff members who were “disheartened” by the specter of violence, said Tina Padilla, assistant to the superintendent.

“It’s just sad that this is the type of threat that we have to deal with,” Padilla said Friday morning.”We’re definitely not shrugging it off. We’re taking it seriously.”

Friday’s incident comes as the nation is reeling from the most recent school shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 students and staff last week at a high school in the Miami suburb of Parkland.

A threat was made against Ferndale schools on Thursday, and a nationwide online threat was revealed as bogus.

An arrest was made in the Ferndale threat, and the teen suspect told authorities her threat also was a hoax.

Blaine’s high school, middle school, elementary school and primary school are all located on its H Street campus east of downtown. An elementary school is located in Point Roberts.

School enrollment was slightly above 2,100 students in early February, Padilla said.

Schools across the country are increasing security or closing as they deal with threats to safety in the wake of the Parkland, Florida attack.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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