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October 2, 2017
School has been cancelled Oct. 3 due to a threat sent to individual students and parents, according to a statement sent out using the emergency memo system by superintendent Corey Lunn. The messages of threats started arriving around 8 p.m. and have continued.
All before and after school activities have been cancelled for all schools in the district, including Kids/Teen Connection. No staff or students will be allowed in the buildings.
The memo states that school district officials are working with the Johnston Police Department (JPD) to determine the validity of the messages.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make,” Lunn said in the memo. “Please know I take the safety of all our students and staff seriously and feel this is the best choice for our district and school community.”
Anybody with information about the threats is asked to call JPD at 515-278-2345.
Many images of threatening texts are circulating social media, however they have not been verified.
The Black and White has reached out to administrators for comment.
The Johnston Police Department (JPD) held a press conference Oct. 3 at 10:30 a.m. with Superintendent Corey Lunn to release the most updated information on the threats.
Police Chief Dennis McDaniel said that the police department has worked throughout the night following numerous accurate leads and misinformation.
“At this time, we cannot substantiate any credible imminent threat to any of our schools, students, parents or staff,” McDaniel said.
JPD is working the investigation in conjunction with the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and other state and local law enforcement officials. They have also engaged private security partners “that are cyber security experts,” McDaniel said.
Because of the nature of the threats, JPD is withholding information at this time as to not compromise the investigation and have time to work with the legal system.
“Be patient in this investigation,” McDaniel said. “There is a tremendous amount of information to sort through and it becomes very technical.”
If threats are received, McDaniel recommended not engaging in conversation, but to report them directly to the police department.
“We believe that its very likely these messages will continue,” McDaniel said. “It’s very likely they will come from a new number or a different series of numbers.”
Superintendent Lunn has been given information not yet released to the public about the investigation. “I’m comfortable, knowing what I know now, to have school tomorrow,” Lunn said.
School is currently going to be held tomorrow. If messages continue, the district will collaborate with local police officials to determine the best course of action.
“If the school session does resume tomorrow, we will have an increased law enforcement presence in each of the school buildings,” McDaniel said.
The police department released a statement from their Facebook page Tuesday morning.
“As this case advances, the Johnston Police Department would like to make people aware that information being shared on a variety of social media channels is inaccurate,” they said. “Please continue to monitor our Police social media pages as updates will be shared once we have information.”
JPD plans to release more information near the end of the work day.
Student names, telephone numbers, and addresses have all been publicly posted as of Oct. 5. The information was posted via the suspected hacker group’s twitter. The group in question is known as the “Dark Overlord Solution.” The twitter account in question has now been deactivated.
It is important to understand that all the information was public knowledge.
The group claimed responsibility for the threats on Oct. 5. The hackers also posted voicemail messages from Johnston students and parents that were sent to the number that the threats were issues from.
Most of the information has been posted on the deep web, a part of the internet that has not yet been indexed yet and cannot be obtained without the use of a special web browser or protocol.
The Dark Overlord Solution has claimed responsibility for multiple hacks in the past, including leaking a Netflix original series and demand for a back ransom back in April. The same group has also claimed responsibility for two similar threats made to school districts around the country in the past several weeks. The first was in Montana, the second was in Texas.
The Minnesota-based Infinite Campus has stated their programs are not to blame for the breach.
Police have stated that they are unwilling to elaborate on the nature of the crime committed, though they have confirmed it is a cybercrime and the threats that were made were not deemed credible. The Omaha branch of the FBI is working with the Johnston police department.