— -- The number of reported threats to schools in the New York area has spiked since the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, the FBI said today.
The news comes amid a wave of copycat threats and foiled plots around the country.
Just in the last week or so, the FBI's New York office has fielded about 40 violent threats to schools, compared to a mere handful during a typical week.
"Threats about causing violence in schools are most concerning," said Billy Sweeney, the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York field office.
Sweeney declined to specify the nature of each threat but said they ran the gamut. Each threat is initially considered legitimate until it thoroughly investigated. The outcome of those investigations was not clear.
"Any threat of serious crime, especially threats to life, we will take very seriously," Sweeney said.
There is typically a spike in reporting after a high profile incident, Sweeney said, citing the 400 suspicious package threats the FBI and NYPD checked out in the aftermath of the 2016 Chelsea bombing on West 23rd Street. He said more public reporting is better than less.
"The spike in reporting is perfectly fine with me," Sweeney said. "We are appreciative of that."
The FBI conceded it failed to follow proper protocol chasing down tips about Parkland suspect Nikolas Cruz, but officials hope the mistake won't deter future public engagement.
"My hope is we don't have to convince the public it's the right thing to do," Sweeney said.