Calaveras County school administrators received a generalized email bomb threat Monday morning that is believed to be associated with Apophis Squad, a cyber attack group that has taken responsibility for two hoax email threats sent out to Mother Lode school officials in April.
The email begins with, “I will make this simple” and says at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, “3 PVC pipe bombs placed under school transport will explode. I will then set off the main pipe bomb hidden in the school. This is what you get for not listening to me. See you all in HELL.”
The email ends with ransom request of $5,000 to be paid via paypal to a specific Google Mail recipient.
The email was sent with the subject line “Staff Notice (APS).”
A Twitter account credited to the cyber attack group posted, at about 3:30 p.m. on Monday, “Little hint in the email ‘APS’ is used; stand for Apophis Squad if the media did not know.”
The name of the email account identified as the sender of the message is Lynne Owens, director-general of the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom.
Calaveras County Office of Education Superintendent Scott Nanik confirmed that the email was “generic” with no specific names or locations identified in the content.
There was no legitimate threat to Calaveras County schools at this time, he said.
But the email did raise concern among school administrators, he added, because as the third emailed threat in about a month, it could influence student responses to on-campus violence.
“I feel it's dangerous because people will become desensitized and it could trigger a copy cat or someone who says I am going to take advantage of this,” he said. “We investigate them all and work with law enforcement because students lives are at stake. We can’t take the chance that it is not real.”
Nanik said the email was received at about 11:45 a.m., and district officials and law enforcement all “jumped in together to figure this out.”
Bret Harte Union High School District Superintendent Michael Chimente said he and Calaveras County School District superintendent Mark Campbell both received the emails to their spam folders, but located them after being notified by Nanik.
Chimente said the threats would not desensitize school officials from investigating any possible threat to school violence and coordinating with law enforcement to discover the perpetrators.
“Do I wish that these emails would stop? Yes. But if this continuing to be an ongoing investigation, my hope is that the FBI will be able to track down the perpetrators. But we will always put the safety of our students and staff first and we are as proactive as possible,” he said.
Chimente said each county district was drafting a letter that would soon be sent out to parents to notify them of the school threat.
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that it was investigating the threat, but also acknowledged that no specific school or school district was mentioned.
Law enforcement would be present on campuses, the statement continued, and noted that the FBI had been contacted about the most recent email threat.
A focus of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office investigation will be to determine if the email threat is associated with the same organization that sent out the emailed threats to school districts across the nation in April.
The FBI office in Sacramento has previously commented that it will not make a statement on an ongoing investigation unless public information such as court documents are available, and it rarely provides comments about particular groups.
On April 8 and April 12, school officials throughout the Mother Lode and the state received hoax bomb threat emails that were identified as not credible.
In the second of the email threats, a photo of a bottle filled with liquid, attached to black tape and wires, was captioned “find me #apophissquad.”
The email said “a male student will be sent into your campus as you start the day, he will look normal but what is in his bag is a bomb” and ended with “we have a picture of the types of bombs we have placed in the bag. We think you should know what is going to kill the students.”
The email referened “ANFO,” also known as ammonium nitrate and fuel oil as the explosive.
The first email threat referenced “the true mean of pain” and continued with “I am coming into school with 3 bombs, and a .22 hand gun. If I see any staff or student I will shoot them and kill them. When I run out of bullets, I will slit there throats and watch them bleed out on the floor. If I see any police at the school I will blowup the bombs.”
A person named Pl3xl3t has corresponded with the Union Democrat via email and the Twitter private messaging and has claimed that Apophis Squad is responsible for the threats.