EMERYVILLE (CBS SF) – An international online game allowing players to score points by leveling false threats at schools, triggering evacuations and closures, is targeting schools in the Bay Area, police said Monday.

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Emeryville police Chief Jennifer Tejada said in a statement that the Emery Unified School District decided to close schools after being targeted by one of the threats leveled against students, administrators and teachers on Sunday night.

Tejada said an initial investigation of the threat indicates it is a hoax generated out of a dare within an overseas online gaming community to see who could generate the most school evacuations in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

A group that calls itself the Apophis squad, supposedly based in Switzerland, claimed responsibility for the threats in both the U.K. and the U.S. on Twitter. The first tweet from the account was dated March 19th of this year, the same day 400 schools in the U.K. were shut down due to bomb threats.

Today the group tweeted “Our emails are hitting the media” and referenced a news story about school threats.

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It was supposed to be the first day back from spring break for students at Emery High School in Emeryville. But instead police guarded the perimeter of a mostly empty building after parents were alerted via robocall that classes were canceled Monday.

“It’s the times we’re living in,” said parent Samantha Gans. “It’s scary. We need to wake up and be prepared.”

Emery High students will be back tomorrow and can expect police to again be at the campus even though the threat was considered baseless. Tejada said police will leave officers in place to assist with the reopening of schools on Tuesday morning.

“We are monitoring social media and are seeing schools in Alameda County and others around the country reporting similar threats,” Tejada said.

Emeryville police Capt. Oliver Collins said the threats have been forwarded to the FBI. Collins said it appears that many California schools received similar threats.

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In Redlands, school officials took to Twitter to tell parents their schools had also been targeted.

“Late Sunday evening, the Redlands Police Department was contacted by a representative of the Redlands Unified School District who reported receiving a vague email threat … The message in the email implied the sender was upset and threatened to blow up a school and shoot students.”

The Redlands police and FBI determined the threat to be a hoax, but security was increased at local schools.

Meanwhile in San Diego, school officials told the San Diego Tribune that its districts were on a heightened alert Monday. The newspaper said threat hoaxes had been made against schools in at least 46 states, including at least five school districts in San Diego County.

Former FBI agent and KPIX 5 security analyst Jeff Harp says threats like this are not just an expensive waste of police resources, they can put the community in a vulnerable position. “Anytime you have a prank that takes law enforcement away from where they’re supposed to be, it can be a very dangerous thing,” said Harp.


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Comments (21)
  1. ‘Online Global Threat’ Sorry, but the Earth is Flat.

  2. Cam Kirmser says:

    Once upon a time, the US didn’t live, shaking in fear.

    Then, liberals took over.

  3. To be expected when children are raised in a cesspool by parents who don’t even know what they are. I pray for secession.

  4. I grew in Los Gatos/San Jose. I good bit of fear is good for the BA. The Bay Area has gotten too big for its britches.

  5. Don Rhudy says:

    I don’t think of San Francisco or its people as belonging to the United States.

  6. Earl Turner says:

    For get gun control! To immediately prevent school shootings install metal detectors and use transparent book bags. Keep unguarded doors locked from outside. These common sense steps are proven to keep shooters out.

  7. Next time issue the threat to the State of California and all cities and counties that support sanctuary for criminals, that ignore our laws, that place our citizens in danger, that bankrupt our communities and have more in common with dictators and NWO open border control freaks.

    Basically your average progressive conformist group thinking demoncrat.

    Have a nice day…

  8. Eli Toro says:

    Group tweeted “Our emails are hitting the media.”

    U.S. military tweeted “Our cruise missiles are hitting your homes.”

  9. We have an agreement with the Swiss on cooperation for cyber crimes. Not sure why this isn’t being pursued?

  10. Don McCoy says:

    After a few are prosecuted it will stop.

  11. What a bunch of wusses? Cancel school over a hoax? Come on now. You are playing right into their hands. These people are bullies. They only way to combat a bully is to stand up to them and punch them in the nose! Liberals DISGUST me.!