Threats to Edmonds child care centers were from out of state

Local police will work with state and federal agencies to investigate who made the calls.

EDMONDS — Police investigating threats made to Edmonds child care centers Monday say the calls appear to have come from outside the state.

“We do not believe that there is an immediate threat to our community,” Edmonds police Sgt. Josh McClure said Tuesday.

After a hectic stretch Monday afternoon, police were able to review the sequence of events that led to law enforcement agencies descending on five centers. Similar threats were made to centers south of the Snohomish County line in Shoreline. It was not immediately clear if those threats were related.

Calls were made to at least two separate Edmonds child care centers. Police are trying to sort out if there were others or if workers at those locations calling other centers prompted additional 911 calls.

“We are still trying to figure out who called when and where,” McClure said. “There’s a lot to sort out.”

Within minutes of the threats, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police as well as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies helped Edmonds officers check on the child care centers.

Detectives are working with local, state and federal authorities.

“Our indication is it is not only outside the state but well outside the state,” McClure said.

Early on, the 911 calls were investigated as a potential case of SWAT-ing, a term used to describe when someone calls police about a fictitious situation, often purported to involve violence, that requires officers to respond to an address.

“This was a couple of steps above SWAT-ing,” McClure said. “This was threatening violence to a vulnerable group at multiple locations.”

Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office said it was not known if Monday’s threats made in Shoreline were related to the Edmonds calls. One was made to a Montessori school that was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We don’t know if it was a copycat thing,” he said.

Such calls, even if they are likely a hoax, can require extensive work.

That was the case in Olympia last year when a series of bomb threats were made to state offices.

A psychiatrist whose license was suspended three years ago for threatening to shoot up a Bothell health insurance agency is suspected of calling in false bomb threats to the state agencies.

Said Farzad is accused in 18 cases of telephone harassment threats to offices in Olympia, Tumwater and some Idaho offices. Farzad was prosecuted for telephone harassment in 2015 after he allegedly made a series of disturbing phone calls to Molina Healthcare of Washington’s Bothell office when the company rejected some of his patients’ claims. His case remains under appeal after an issue of double jeopardy was raised.

The 2018 calls reportedly came from other countries. Police have found no evidence of bombs, but the state offices were treating the threats seriously by increasing police presence and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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