A emailed threat including the words "bullets and guns" sent to an elementary school teacher caused the closure of three South Jersey school districts Thursday. And police say a 10-year-old was responsible for causing the alarm.
The Franklin Township Police Department announced the closure of the Franklin Township and Delsea Regional school districts in Gloucester County around 5 a.m. The Elk Township School District also closed since it shares bussing with Delsea schools.
At a midday news conference, police said a 10-year-old was taken into custody and admitted to sending the threat to a Caroline L. Reutter teacher, the second incident in the past week.
"We will not stand for this type of behavior," Franklin Township Police Chief Brian Zimmer said. "At this time there is no known threats to any of our schools. The individual in custody had no access to weapons and was just making bad decisions."
Franklin Township superintendent Troy Walton told NBC10's Cydney Long that a teacher received a threatening email including the words "bullets and guns." Police said the threat of a "school shooting" was received around 1:20 a.m.
Though the threat targeted a teacher at only the one Franklin Township school, Walton decided to close all three district schools as a precautionary measure, leaving about 1,500 students out of the classroom.
Delsea schools said its closure was out of an “abundance of caution” due to its proximity to Franklin Township schools. About 2,000 students go to Delsea high and middle schools.
Schools will reopen Friday with an increased presence of security, Walton said. A school resource officer was already set to begin patrolling the schools on Monday, police said.
The 10-year-old continued to send emails to not only teachers but also principals — even threatening a school shooting at Main Road School Friday — as investigators tried to track down the sender, police said.
The email provider and phone company helped track the emails to a home in Franklinville, police said.
The boy was taken into custody and admitted to making the threats, police said. He was charged with making terroristic threats and causing false public alarm. Police were seeking out psychological help for the child before he is released to his parents.
Walton encouraged parents to monitor their children online.
"This is just an unfortunate situation where a student was online, hiding behind a computer, making threatening statements, making bad decisions."