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Authorities investigate bomb threats at three East End high schools, officials say

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead in 2013.

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead in 2013. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Authorities are investigating bomb threats made at three East End high schools Thursday, but police did not find any suspicious devices and are looking into whether the incidents are linked.

Schools in Southampton and Riverhead canceled after-school activities, dismissed students and locked down buildings after receiving the threats, according to school officials.

A bomb threat was called into Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead earlier Thursday and students there were evacuated to Riverhead High School, according to Riverhead school district Superintendent Nancy Carney and state police.

Riverhead school officials offered to evacuate the Mercy students to their high school so they would not have to wait outside in the cold.

Once the students arrived at Riverhead High School, that school received an automated phone call with a possible threat to the outside of the building, Carney said. School officials decided to dismiss students from both schools at 12:30 p.m.

The rest of the district's schools were put on lockdown and all after-school activities were canceled. Mercy High School also canceled its after-school and evening activities, according to the school's website.

State and Riverhead police responded, Carney said, swept the buildings and grounds and Riverhead High was given an all clear at about 1:45 p.m.

"We have a lot of appreciation for the staff and students at Riverhead and at Mercy," she said. "And a real appreciation to the Riverhead police and the state police who consulted with us throughout the entire incident."

Southampton school officials posted a notice on the district website from schools Superintendent Scott Farina stating that a threat was phoned into the high school earlier Thursday. The district's three buildings were placed on lockout status and all high school students dismissed after ninth period. All after-school activities were canceled.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience, but the safety of our students and staff is critical, and we must follow this necessary protocol," he said.

State Police Lt. Jose Febo said the matter remains under investigation and that State Police are assisting Riverhead police and also assisting in Southampton. Authorities are looking into whether the incidents are linked.

"It is an incredibly odd coincidence to go years without a single bomb threat and now we have four," Febo said.

A bomb threat also had been called into Mercy High School Wednesday, he confirmed, but no devices were found either Wednesday or Thursday.

"First responders determined that this threat was once again unsubstantiated," the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which runs Mercy High, said in a statement. "An investigation on both threats has been initiated with the police and we are cooperating fully."

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