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N.Y. / Region |A Bomb Threat Closes Schools in Bergen County


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N.Y. / Region

A Bomb Threat Closes Schools in Bergen County


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Schools in at least a dozen districts in northern New Jersey will be closed today as a precaution after an anonymous bomb threat was received by the mayor of Emerson, in Bergen County, police officials said yesterday. The closings affect nearly 12,000 students.

A letter warned that five schools would be “blown out” at 11:30 a.m., school officials said. It mentioned Emerson’s three schools as well as two others in unidentified nearby towns.

According to a statement from the Emerson Police Department, the borough clerk’s office received the letter around 10:30 a.m. yesterday. The Emerson schools were immediately evacuated, and the Emerson police notified neighboring departments about the threat, the statement said.

The Bergen County police bomb squad searched every school building in Emerson, the statement said. No bombs were found.


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School districts in Oradell, River Edge, Closter, Demarest, Haworth, Harrington Park, Northvale, Norwood and Old Tappan will be closed today. Two regional districts — Northern Valley, with schools in Demarest and Old Tappan, and River Dell, with schools in Oradell and River Edge — will also be closed. The schools, all in mostly affluent Bergen County, have a combined student population of about 11,700.

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“My first reaction was shock, the concern for my two daughters, then anger,” Emerson’s mayor, Louis J. Lamatina, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “And it’s an anger that’s growing.”

Mr. Lamatina, a part-time mayor, usually collects his mail on Saturdays. But the clerk called him immediately after opening the letter, which had been written on a computer, he said.

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“Could it be a prank from a child? From what I’ve heard, that’s obviously a credible theory,” he said, noting that the letter looked a bit patched together. It was postmarked in Teterboro, where the regional post office is located.

“These poor kids’ minds are forming, and they have to live with a threat like this,” he said. “Everything is plastered over the news in front of them, and the fact that someone wants to blow them up is just inhuman. If it’s a prank, there’s no potential justification or explanation of how someone could sink that low.”

He said the schools were evacuated so quickly that some teachers did not have time to grab their purses, which were locked inside.

In Oradell, schools were closed at the end of the day yesterday and will be closed today. All were being searched, the Oradell police said.

“Our department deemed it prudent to treat the threat as credible, to ensure the safety of the students and school personnel,” said Detective Sgt. Mike Oslacky of the Oradell police. Back-to-school nights at the middle and high school were also canceled.

The warning had ripple effects beyond the boundaries of Emerson, which has 7,300 residents and 1,200 students in its schools. In Glen Rock, about eight miles away, the schools will remain open, but, according to the district’s Web site, “All high school students will be required to remain inside the building for lunch, and no outside food deliveries will be allowed.”

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