WAREHAM — A "very specific" threat sent police into action Monday morning, evacuating and sweeping three schools.
"The email, which was sent anonymously (at 10 a.m.), said they were inside a school in Wareham and they threatened to shoot people at the school," said Police Chief Kevin Walsh. "It was a short email. We didn't know which school the threat was referring to. We went by the schools that were in session."
The schools in session for summer school and basketball camps were Wareham High School, Wareham Middle School and Minot Forest Elementary. Walsh said roughly 80 to 100 students were at the high school, about 200 to 300 at the middle school and about 60 to 70 students at the elementary.
Andy White, a basketball camp counselor, said he and his 23 campers were notified by the principal to get into locker room and stay there until further notified.
The schools were put into lock down, and authorities closed Route 6 nearby. Students were escorted out in groups and bused to the Gleason Family YMCA, 33 Charge Pond Road, to meet their parents.
According to one parent at the YMCA, to keep the students calm, teachers pulled down the blinds and gave students "busy work," and younger student were told they were going on an impromptu field trip to the YMCA.
"I've been in education a long time, so I've seen some things," Wareham Superintendent Kimberly Shaver-Hood said. "But never to this degree."
YMCA Senior Program Director Lu Brito regularly updated the large crowd of concerned parents, many of whom rushed to the scene still in their work clothes, prefacing each update with "stay calm." Employees passed out water and juice to the parents and children, too.
“Today was the kind of day that stays with you,” YMCA Executive Director Debbie Fringuelli said in a statement. “There was no time to think and no other answer. We are the Y. Our community is at the heart of everything we do. The buses began arriving moments later.”
Through each school, law enforcement swept the buildings. Room by room, hallway by hallway and crevice by crevice, Walsh said. By the final sweep in the afternoon, police had not found a suspect or made any arrests.
"It's an extensive, organized process that takes all of these law enforcement agencies working together complete the process in an efficient manner," Walsh said. "State police, local police and fire departments all worked in unison to get this done."
A tech "savvy" team will look into the origin of the email, Walsh said, adding that officials believe it stemmed from a single person.
In addition to Wareham police, Walsh received additional support from the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Committee SWAT team, Cape Cod Law Enforcement Council SWAT Team and the Massachusetts State Police STOP Team, and Wareham Fire Department as well as support from neighboring town departments like Plymouth, Rochester, Middleboro, Carver among others.
Shaver-Hood said Tuesday's summer session will be a "regular day."
"It will be a regular day, but every day we guard our students’ safety and take all precautions necessary," she said.
Walsh added an increased police presence in the area of the Wareham public school campus will be in place "as needed."
Follow Wesley Sykes on Twitter @WesleySykes_SCT.