Valley locations among those nationwide targeted in bomb threat hoaxes

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The country is on alert as emailed fake bomb threats led to fear and evacuations nationwide Thursday, including at least a dozen locations here in the Valley.

The emails have been sent to schools, businesses and government agencies demanding thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payment. While authorities are taking each threat seriously, none have been credible.

In the Valley, at least 12 locations have been targeted, including Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, and a school in Los Banos, but the majority of the reports have happened in Fresno County.

One of the locations targeted was Fresno Tractor. The heavy equipment business received a threatening email, demanding the people inside pay for their safety.

Marketing and sales director Travis Compton said the email said that the bomb, "Wouldn't harm the building, but it was designed to hurt people."

The subject line made it clear not to contact law enforcement.

"They wanted 20 thousand dollars in Bitcoin," said Compton.

That request immediately raised a red flag.

"It is concerning anytime someone threatens you with extortion, and so forth, it's very discerning."

Worried for his safety, at the safety of nearly 15 co-workers, Compton immediately called Fresno Police.

Fresno Tractor was not alone, at least four other locations also reached out to authorities, including the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) federal building in Northwest Fresno.

"We started partnering with the FBI when the case came in through ATF," said Lt. Mark Hudson of the Fresno Police Department. "It does seem random at this point because there is no connection between these businesses."

The emails, later determined to be a hoax, also targeted random locations in Fresno County. One site was a school in Raisin City, where a teacher received the threatening letter.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office reminds people, now is a good time to be aware of your surroundings and take any alarming situation seriously.

"Do not think because you are hearing this story is a hoax, that everything else you come in contact with is as well," said Tony Botti of the Sheriff's Office. "Let us investigate and determine if it is fact of fiction."

That's something Compton is also encouraging everyone to do, "It is really about protecting America."

Compton also searched the IP address from the email he was sent, and found out it came from someone in Russia.

Right now authorities have not been able to confirm that, and the FBI is expected to come to Fresno Tractor on Friday morning to look into the threatening email.

At this point, it does not appear that anyone here in the Valley fell victim to request for Bitcoin.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.