(UPDATE 1:30 p.m.): Bishop-McGann Mercy High School was cleared of any threat after an automated message called into the Riverhead school this morning warned of “some kind of device,” according to Riverhead police Lt. David Lessard.
Faculty staff and K-9 units from the New York State Police searched the building, Lt. Lessard said. Students who were evacuated were told to leave their backpacks outside on the high school football field and a police dog searched the bags. No threats were found, Lt. Lessard said.
As Mercy students were transported to Riverhead High School via Riverhead buses to await pickup, another threat was called into Riverhead, describing a bomb somewhere toward the front, outside the high school building.
Lt. Lessard said he wasn’t sure yet if that message was a similar automated message. Police are conducting an IT investigation to try to trace the IP address and determine if it was called from an online app, he said. An automated message sent by the school to Riverhead parents just before 1:30 p.m. said that the building was cleared and there was no threat. After-school activities for the high school were canceled, the message said.
Similar threats were called into the Southampton School District. Lt. Lessard said investigators are in contact with Southampton Village Police are unsure yet if the calls are related.
It was the second straight day a threat was called into Mercy High School.
1st Update: A threat was called into Riverhead High School just minutes after Bishop McGann-Mercy students were being transported there to await pickup following a threat at that school, Riverhead police at the scene confirmed at around 11:30 a.m.
A Riverhead offical said students were given an early dismissal at 12:30 p.m. The middle school students were expected to be dismissed at normal time.
“I’m worried and upset,” said Dawn Reiter, the mother of a Mercy sophomore, as she waited outside Riverhead High School. “If it’s a phone call, I don’t understand why they can’t trace it. I want them to close until they figure this out.”
Riverhead senior Sean O’Brien said students were scared to go back into the school as he came back from an off-campus lunch.
“This is crazy,” he said.
A third East End school district was in lockdown as well. The Southampton School District received a threat to its high school, according a message from Scott Farina, the superintendent of schools.
“The threat was not specific in date or time, but indicated would come from the outside,” the message said. “As a precautionary measure, the district’s three buildings are currently in lockout status.”
Southampton Village Police were on scene investigating and the school was still in lockdown as of 1 p.m., according to Amy Pierson, a spokeswoman for the school.
Original Story: Students at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School were quickly evacuated out of the school this morning for the second straight day after threats were made against the Riverhead school, according to school officials.
An announcement from principal Carl Semmler at around 10:45 a.m. instructed students to immediately head for the football field, without stopping for coats. The school was evacuated yesterday after a similar threat and Riverhead police determined the threats were unsubstantiated.
Students were gathered on the school’s football field and then placed onto buses bound for Riverhead High School. An automated message sent by Mr. Semmler to parents at about 11:20 a.m. said students were going to be brought to the Riverhead High School auditorium to await pickup. The remainder of the school day was cancelled, according to the message.
“We are asking all transportation companies to pick up the students as soon as they are able to,” Mr. Semmler said in the message. “Parents will also be able to pick up their students.”
Eileen Manitta, an assistant principal at the high school, welcomed the Mercy students into the gymnasium.
“I’m really glad we were able to offer you a warm place to be, to get out of the cold,” she said.
Police did not have any immediate details on today’s threat. Riverhead Fire Department volunteers were called to the school and are waiting on standby.
WITH CYNDI MURRAY, CARRIE MILLER, PAUL SQUIRE AND BARBARAELLEN KOCH