Lowell, other Mass. communities on alert after ‘unauthorized individuals’ try to enter schools

Police in Lowell are increasing patrols after a trio of “unauthorized individuals” tried to gain entry into a pair of public schools in the city on Tuesday.

“Three unauthorized individuals were denied entry at two schools by school staff members who followed established protocol,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Liam Skinner said in a letter to parents. “We take these incidents very seriously and immediately reported them to the Lowell Police Department, which is actively investigating these matters while increasing patrols of the schools.”

A Boston 25 source confirmed one of the schools involved was Moody Elementary in Lowell.

Skinner said his office learned that law enforcement has also been involved in similar incidents in at least three other districts across the state.

Boston 25 News has learned that police chiefs across Mass. received a warning from the Boston Office of the FBI on November 17, about three suspicious incidents in local cities and towns involving unidentified men gaining access to local schools.

Our source says the incidents occurred between October 18 and November 17 in Dedham, Needham, and Woburn.

In a statement issued Thursday, Woburn Public Schools confirmed that a man attempted to enter the Goodyear Elementary school earlier this month.

“On Thursday, Nov. 9, a man attempted to enter Goodyear Elementary School saying he needed to charge his cell phone. Goodyear staff acted quickly and professionally. The man was denied entry, as is consistent with District policy. In keeping with our procedures the Woburn Police Department was notified immediately. This incident was communicated to the Goodyear school community that afternoon,” WPS said. “The District continues to work closely with Woburn Police to ensure the safety of students and staff in all school buildings.”

Authorities say none of the men appeared to have a legitimate reason to be in the schools.

One posed as a utility worker. The other claimed to be in the building to charge his cell phone, though the phone appeared to be fully charged.

Boston 25 source tells us the men involved in the Lowell incidents do not match the same descriptions as the men from the incidents in Dedham, Needham, and Woburn. This warning was reportedly sent out of an abundance of caution to remind schools to stay vigilant and enforce school guest policies.

“As a result of these previous incidents in other districts, school leaders had been briefed in advance of today’s incidents to be extra diligent with door safety protocols,” Skinner added.

Skinner reminded parents that no one will be admitted to any Lowell Public Schools building without “proper identification and a legitimate reason to enter the building.”

Skinner also asked the school community to ensure that doors close behind them when they go in or out of buildings and to never prop a door open.

The FBI and local law enforcement are actively investigating and looking to identify the men involved.

In response to our inquiry, the FBI says, “Our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products. As part of the continuous dialogue with our law enforcement partners, the FBI routinely shares information to assist law enforcement in protecting the communities they serve. We urge the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Boston 25 has also reached out to each of the Superintendents for Dedham, Needham, and Woburn Public Schools for comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW