Email Hoax Briefly Locks Down Fortuna Schools


UPDATE: It appears numerous schools throughout the county received the email, though it's currently unclear if any others went on lockdown as a result. We'll update when we get more information.

Several Fortuna schools were briefly placed on lockdown this morning after an administrator received an email threatening a mass casualty event.

But Fortuna police, working with the local FBI office, quickly determined the email was a hoax that originated in Ukraine, with identical threats sent to schools throughout the country from the same IP address. Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein said the superintendent of Fortuna Middle School received the email at about 11:25 a.m. and immediately instituted a lockdown and notified police. Dobberstein said his department reached out to the FBI, which dispatched two agents to campus, where they noted the email’s Ukranian IP address and combed through FBI bulletins to match it to threats received on other campuses throughout the country.

“We took it very seriously,” Dobberstein said.

The chief said the email pretended to be from a student who had been bullied, and blamed administrators for not taking action.

“Now you’ll understand the meaning of pain,” the chief quoted the email as saying, adding that the sender threatened to bring three bombs and a handgun to school and to begin killing indiscriminately. “When I run out of bullets, I will slit their throats and watch them bleed out on the floor,” it read.

But thanks to the FBI, Dobberstein said it only took about 45 minutes to determine it to be a hoax, at which point the lockout was lifted.

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