FBI: Suspect in custody after Upper Merion Area School District threat

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Upper Merion police and the FBI say a suspect has been taken into custody as reported during Action News at 11 on January 18, 2019.

Upper Merion police and the FBI say a suspect has been taken into custody for an alleged threat that caused officials to close the Upper Merion Area School District on Friday.

Officials do not know if he has any connection to the school district, nor why he made the threat on twitter.

The suspect was traced to Montreal.

School district superintendent Dr. John Toleno had been tweeting about the impending storm Thursday night when a response came; it was someone threatening to come into school with a gun and open fire.
"The threat contained a place, a school, though it doesn't have a particular school, a time, today, and, of course, a method; those are the things we look at when we weigh how big this thing is," Toleno said.

Upper Merion Township police report they were notified at 10:30 p.m. and called in the FBI to assist them.

At first, Dr. Toleno considered opening school with a greater police presence, but by morning, felt the best option was to close a day early for the long weekend.

"As I knew more getting into early hours of the morning, since we didn't have more specifics that would put this thing to rest, the best thing I could do was say 'we're going to get out of this today and not open school,'" Toleno said.

He tweeted, "Viking Nation, all schools and offices within the Upper Merion Area School District will be closed today, Friday, January 18th due to a threat that was made against our district. Please know that the Upper Merion Police and FBI are working very hard to solve this case.#Safety."


Parents received calls about the threat.

"When I got a call pretty late, like 11 p.m., I thought, well, something's up," parent Daniel Shaw said.

Police say the schools - Bridgeport Elementary School, Caley Elementary School, Candlebrook Elementary School, Gulph Elementary School, Roberts Elementary School, Upper Merion Area Middle School, and Upper Merion Area High School - were all closed out of an abundance of caution as they work to zero in on who is behind the online threat.

"These situations don't give school districts and police departments a lot of choices. A lot of response is prescribed and I thought they handled it exactly how they had to," Shaw said.

In a tweet, Toleno said, "We will work through this as a community knowing that we will not allow these senseless acts of stupidity to define us!"
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educationpennsylvania newsschool threatthreatUpper Merion Township
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