Over 5,000 people connected to Gardner public schools, including students, were sent a pair of emails early Saturday morning containing malicious and graphic threats against a school along with racial phrases.
The threatening emails were sent through a vendor the Gardner school district uses for students called PlusPortals, according to Gardner police. The initial threatening message was sent out en masse just after midnight.
A second email followed a half an hour later. It reiterated the threat, and contained the date January 24 along with "extremely graphic images that appear to be taken from the Internet," Gardner police said in a statement.
The schools were checked and secured by Gardner police and no threats were located at the time.
The Gardner Public School District released a statement on their Facebook page, decrying the emails, and administrators offered counseling support to students, their families, and staff.
"The Gardner Public School District is horrified at the emails that were sent to our children and families through a student's school email account. Someone was able to do this through a feature of our family communication tool. This feature has since been disabled," the statement said. "These emails included images, videos, and messages of hate, violence, and racism. Messages of hate and violence are not tolerated in our school community."
The school district said it is working with authorities to find who is responsible.
"At this time, we ask our families and the public at large to know that the owner of the email account is not necessarily the author of these emails," the statement said. "Please let the professionals in our district and police department investigate properly and thoroughly."
The exact nature of the threats has not been released by authorities.
The Gardner police stated they are working with the school district and the city's technology department to investigate the threats.