Days after threat, police return to schools in 3 communities

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Local police officers, armed guards, as well as city and town officials returned to schools in three communities on Thursday, as the investigation continues into a threat made against elementary school students.

Police remain confident that there is no evidence the threat is credible, but are not taking any chances as they return to each school in Cranston, Warwick, and Johnston for the remainder of the week.

Eyewitness News has learned from investigators the letter that outlined the threat was one-page long, handwritten, and traditionally mailed. The letter is currently at the crime lab for processing. Col. Steven McCartney from Warwick confirmed the letter mentioned “beheading” in a threatening manner.

Cranston Superintended Dr. Judith Lundsten said Cranston schools informed parents of the threat through a robocall and sent emails to teachers. Families in both Warwick and Johnston were also notified in a similar manner.

Students in all three communities were also kept indoors during recess, which will continue through the end of the week. Some students were sent home immediately after the school day ended on Wednesday.

Ludsten admitted the situation caused her to lose sleep, but offered reassurance as a grandmother of five.

“I thought, ‘What would I tell my son and daughter-in-law?’ And I would tell them, ‘Send them to school, we’re going to have a good day,” she said.

In Cranston, approximately one out of three students was absent on Wednesday. Johnston Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo said that about 42% of the students there were absent, and Eyewitness News confirmed attendance was down by about 30% in Warwick.

Extra police presence was also seen at after school activities on Wednesday night, such as at the Bend Street Complex in Warwick where several youth soccer games were played.

While several parents kept their children home from school on Wednesday, parents who sent their children said they were confident that local police and school officials would keep safety the top priority.

“Both kids went to school,” said Dawn Ciarlo of Warwick. “We had a conversation explaining what the situation was and just kept it high level and said if you witness anything or anything seems or looks out of place to make sure you tell an adult.”

On the side of caution, the Warwick Firefighters Soccer Club and Warwick Soccer Association will provide police detail again for Thursday night’s games.

Whoever is responsible for the letter could spend a year in prison, plus a $500 fine on a misdemeanor charge of making a threat.

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