Thousands of students in the nation's sixth-largest school district spent hours locked in their classrooms Wednesday after an unidentified woman called a radio station and said her husband might go to a campus and open fire with a gun.
The lockdown of all 300 Broward County schools was ordered after the radio station found it had earlier been sent an e-mail, perhaps by the husband, saying "something big was going to happen," possibly at a post office or a school, said Pembroke Pines Police Capt. Daniel Rakofsky.
Broward school Superintendent James Notter said the threat included hate words, apparently against certain ethnic and religious groups. The district has nearly 257,000 students, who were let go at their normal time.
The lockdown had some parents nervously going to the schools, but they were not allowed to get their children. Some schools were guarded by officers in bulletproof vests.
"We're just nervous, scared," said Inez Hernandez, who waited outside Charles W. Flanagan High School, where he 15-year-old son is a student. "We don't know what's going to happen."
By early afternoon, police said they had determined that the threat had "diminished" and the students were dismissed, although with a heavier police presence. All after-school activities were canceled.
Rakofsky would not say why investigators believed the threat level had been reduced.
Kobi Deculit, 13, a student at McArthur High School, said students remained in their second period classes and weren't allowed to eat lunch or use cell phones.
"They were asking, 'Why is this happening?'" he said of the students. "Are we going to be stuck here all day?"
He said none of the students were scared or crying, and weren't told what had happened until the end of the day.
Neither the woman who called the radio station nor the person who sent the e-mail have been identified, though police said they were following several leads. Authorities would not identify the radio station.