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15,000 Montana students returning to school after cyber-threats

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 18, 2017

Associated Press

KALISPELL, Mont. – Classes are scheduled to resume Tuesday in northwestern Montana’s Flathead Valley after more than 30 public and private schools canceled classes last week because several schools received cyber-threats. More than 15,000 students have stayed home because of the closures.

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said investigators told school administrators there is no indication the person making the threats was doing so from northwestern Montana.

“The suspect could, in fact, be behind a keyboard anywhere in the world,” Curry said. “All local references in our negotiations with the suspect are easily available online or from already compromised networks. We continue to work tirelessly to determine that location and fully discredit the threat.”

Investigators, including the FBI, have not made public details of the threats but Curry has said the person sending them was trying to incite fear.

The first threat was sent late Sept. 13. Other schools then received similar threats.

Schools canceled classes on Thursday and Friday and postponed weekend extracurricular activities due to the threats.

Investigators believe the person hacked into the Columbia Falls school district computer and used information from it to then send disturbing threats via text and email to students, families and staff on Saturday.

Informational meetings for parents will be held Monday and there will be a law enforcement presence at area schools “until we are able to apprehend the suspect or further discredit the threat,” Curry said.

The suspect has taken extraordinary measures to conceal his or her identity and location, Curry has said.

Teachers returned to public schools on Monday.

Classes also resumed Monday for students at Flathead Valley Community College campuses in Kalispell and Libby.

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