BAYONNE – A social media post from the evening of Sunday, March 4, that threatened to “shoot up all Bayonne public schools” caused the Bayonne School District to close on Monday, March 5. The account that posted the tweet, @IMorenalaz under the name Ispakagan Morenalaz, appears to be fake and was created the same day as the post, according to Bayonne Police Chief Drew Sisk. An investigation into the identity of the accountholder is ongoing.
“The police department could not confirm, as of yet, that this was a hoax, so we decided it was best to close our schools for today,” said Mayor James Davis, who was alerted to the threat on Sunday evening, which left insufficient time to notify parents to arrange for childcare.
He continued, “I assure you that when we come up with the individual or individuals who are responsible for this, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The school district will resume its regular schedule on Tuesday, March 6, with two police officers inside every school using additional resources from Hudson County Sheriff’s Department. The plan is temporary until the mayor and the school district hammer out an intended policy to hire a retired police officer to work in every Bayonne public school with a concealed weapon.
The scare was the third in Bayonne since the Feb. 14 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people. On Feb. 23, a message on the social media platform Snapchat threatened a shooting at “BHS,” an acronym for the New Mexico high school, Belan High School, which was confused with Bayonne, prompting the high school to notify parents to sign out their students.
Later that day, police were called to Henry E. Harris Community School after a parent reported her child telling her that another student said a shooting would take place at the school.
“Schools are still the safest place for students,” said Interim Superintendent Michael A. Wanko, citing a statistic published in USA Today. “We want to keep our students safe but also in school because that’s their job right now – to be in school.”