The FBI and Montana law enforcement are looking for a hacker who's been terrorizing local high schools for the past five days, threatening both students' families and teachers alike.
According to a police statement, an unidentified hacker breached the servers of the Columbia Falls Schools District from where he obtained a list of phone numbers for all the district's students, teachers, and school staffers.
Both schools and police believed the threats to be credible. Classes at all 30 schools that are part of the Columbia Falls School District were canceled on Thursday and Friday, and again today, on Monday, September 18. Football and soccer games supposed to take place last week were also canceled.
On Saturday, local police issued an apology for failing to identify the hacker and announced they called in the FBI for help.
An FBI spokesperson refused to comment for this story, citing an ongoing investigation.
Also on Saturday, several schools held parent meetings to instruct families how to deal with any threats. Meetings were held at Flathead High School, Glacier High School, and Columbia Falls High School, just to name a few of the targeted schools.
Authorities advise students, parents, and school staff not to answer any threatening text or email messages they receive from unknown persons, and to contact law enforcement officials instead. The threats are of physical violence.
Montana news agencies reported that the FBI and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office made contact with the hacker and negotiations took place over the weekend [1, 2, 3]. Police said they don't believe the suspect to be from the area.
"This person is only trying to gain power and self satisfaction through fear and intimidation," police said in a statement.
"I would also like to commend our community for refusing to be paralyzed by fear and continuing your day to day lives in the face of this threat," said Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters in a different statement.
After canceling classes today, district officials announced plans to resume normal activities tomorrow, Tuesday, September 19.
Police will have an increased presence in schools over the next week as the investigation continues.
UPDATE [September 19, 03:15 ET]: NBC Montana has obtained a copy of the ransom note sent to school officials last week. The hacker goes by The Dark Overlord, the same name used by the hackers who hacked Netflix earlier in the year. It is unclear if it's really The Dark Overlord's doing, or someone is impersonating the famed group due to his name recognition.
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