Buffalo Police Say All Clear After Bomb Threats

Several downtown buildings threatened by email

December 13, 2018 - 2:58 pm

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Buffalo Police have given the all clear after several bomb threats to buildings downtown were reported Thursday.

Attorney Paul Cambria says his law firm received an email bomb threat, demanding payment in bitcoin. Cambria says police have been searching the building but have not yet found anything.

Other buildings receiving threats include the Catholic Health building on Genesee St and the Ellicott Square Building.

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says numerous 911 calls came in from a number of organizations. "We have been informed this is going nationwide. These are emailed bomb threats, and we believe there is low credibility," says Rinaldo. 

Niagara University says it too received a bomb threat, and issued this statement:

This afternoon a number of members of the university community received an email that threatened the university.Dozens of other institutions across the state and country have received this same or similar emails, all requesting a financial transaction, and based on consultation with law enforcement we now know that this is not a credible threat. We have notified our campus community of this incident.

The Niagara County Sheriff's Department released the following statement:

"The Niagara County Communications Center received a call from Campus Safety at Niagara University regarding a possible bomb threat. Responding officers determined that a professor at the university received an email advising that there was a bomb on campus and it would be detonated if $20,000 in Bitcoin was not transferred to an account. While investigating the incident, information was received from partnering law enforcement agencies regarding similar threats being received across the country. The threat was quickly determined to not be credible."

Niagara County Community College says it also received a bomb threat.

Law enforcement agencies across the country dismissed similar threats, saying they were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money and were not considered credible.

Some of the emails had the subject line: "Think Twice." They were sent from a spoofed email address. The sender claimed to have had an associate plant a small bomb in the recipient's building and that the only way to stop him from setting it off was by making an online payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin.

"We are currently monitoring multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city," the New York City Police Department's counterterrorism unit tweeted. "These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide & are NOT considered credible at this time."

Other law enforcement agencies also dismissed the threats, which were written in a choppy style reminiscent of the Nigerian prince email scam.

The Palm Beach County, Florida, sheriff's office and the Boise, Idaho, police said they had no reason to believe that threats made to locations in those areas were credible. One of the emails wound up in a spam filter, Boise Police Chief William Bones said.

The FBI said it is assisting law enforcement agencies that are dealing with the threats.

"As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety," the FBI said in a statement.

Thursday's scare came less than two months after prominent Democratic officials and CNN's Manhattan offices were targeted with package bombs. The suspect in that case, Cesar Sayoc, is in jail while awaiting trial.

In 2015, an emailed bomb threat prompted different reactions from the nation's two largest public school systems. The Los Angeles school system closed down under threat of a mass attack, but New York City officials quickly saw it as a hoax.

In the wake of Thursday's emails, some schools across the country closed early and others were evacuated or placed on lockdown. Authorities said a threat emailed to a school in Troy, Missouri, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of St. Louis, was sent from Russia.

The bomb threats also prompted evacuations at city hall in Aurora, Illinois, the offices of the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, a suburban Atlanta courthouse and businesses in Detroit.

"Organizations nationwide, both public and private, have reported receiving emailed bomb threats today," Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shannon Banner said. "They are not targeted toward any one specific sector."

Penn State University notified students via a text alert about threats to a half-dozen buildings and an airport on its main campus in State College, Pennsylvania. In an update, the school said the threat appeared to be part of a "national hoax."

Officials at Columbine High School in Colorado were dealing Thursday with a bomb threat of a different sort. Students were being kept inside for the rest of the school day after someone called in a bomb threat against the school.

The Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff's Office said the caller claimed to have placed explosive devices in the school and to be hiding outside with a gun.

Sheriff's spokesman Mike Taplin said nothing was found at Columbine, where 12 students and a teacher were killed by two students in 1999.

Two dozen other Colorado schools were also temporarily placed on lockout, meaning their doors were locked but classes continued normally, as the threat was investigated.

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