PEMBROKE PINES (CBS) – Pembroke Pines Police say a “person of interest” has been identified after two threats forced the lockdown of all Broward County public and charter schools for most of the school day on Wednesday.
That means they may know the person who called in and e-mailed threats to Pompano Beach radio station WFTL-850 am.
“As a result of our investigation, we have found a person of interest in this case who is not from the tri-county area,” said Captain Don Rakofsky of the Pembroke Pines Police Department.
He declined to say if that person was a radio listener from Martin County but he did tell CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that only one name was used in the threats and both threats were sent to the attention of controversial talk show host Joyce Kaufman.
During an appearance on Lou Dobbs’ radio show Thursday afternoon, Kaufman said a woman from New Port Richey made the email and phone threat. On the show, Kaufman spoke of how the episode upset her.
“I have every kind of feeling that a human being can have from tremendous sadness to anger,” Kaufman said. “And one of the things that bothers me the most is that they were so disgraceful that they used children in this attack against me.”
Rakofsky would not confirm if the person of interest was a male or female. He said the F.B.I. had taken control of the case and said the latest development showed that if anyone made such threats, they would be caught quickly and would face substantial local and state penalties.
The person of interest was tracked through an internet address. “We don’t take these matters lightly,” said Rakofsky.
“The perpetrator of these threats had definitely used Ms. Kaufman’s name in relation to what happened on Wednesday,” said Rakofsky.
Kaufman received national attention on Tuesday night when her controversial remarks were shown on MSNBC’s “Rachel Madow Show.” Kaufman, who had been named the Chief of Staff for conservative Republican, Congressman-elect, Allen West, was seen at a July 4th rally making the comment, “And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.” Kaufman had campaigned for West leading up to his election.
On Wednesday, Kaufman blamed the threats on people who were trying to hurt and discredit Allen West.
“Now that they have declared that they are the enemy,” said Kaufman, “their vile, vicious, disgusting behavior has exposed them for just how evil they are.”
Kaufman also announced that she had decided not to become West’s Chief-of-Staff. On Dobb’s show, Kaufman said did not to tarnish West’s reputation.
“I’m not going to allow them to tie me and things I’ve said or incidents that are happening right now in our county to him,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman also said she believed the woman who made the threats would not have been able to hear her South Florida radio show from New Port Richey, which is north of Tampa.
“Someone directed her or she was so incensed by the piece that she saw on television that she decided to stage this very elaborate, very dangerous, and very disgusting attack which involved children,” she said.
After Kaufman resigned, West said it was with “deep regret” that his congressional district would not have the services of Kaufman, adding “Joyce is a good friend and will remain loyal to South Floridians to me.”
On her way out of the station on Thursday, Kaufman waved at the cameras but refused to grant any interviews.
The lockdown started said early Wednesday morning when police said they received an unspecified threat after a woman called a radio station to say her husband was “going to respond to a school in Pembroke Pines and start shooting.”
The School Superintendent described the threat as credible, and a lockdown was ordered for all Broward schools as a precaution. Students were brought in from all outdoor activities and gates to seal off entrances to the schools were closed and locked.
McArthur High School, which is on the border of Pembroke Pines, was also placed on lockdown, according to Nadine Drew with the county’s school district.
In addition to the unspecified threat, Pembroke Pines police said an email was also sent stating that “something big was going to happen” around government buildings in Broward County.
“One never overreacts when the safety of our children and our employees are at stake,” said School Supt. Jim Notter said, responding to any possible criticism of the lockdown. “It clearly was not an over-reaction.”
Notter’s sentiment was echoed by Captain Rakofsky.
“We believe that any threat that has this level of information it needs to be taken seriously, that the safety and security of the schools in Pembroke Pines and Broward County are of the utmost concern of the law enforcement agencies,” Rakofsky said.
Rakofsky said that there will be an enhanced police presence around all Broward County schools.
CBS4’s Carey Codd also contributed to this report.
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