Schools across the country have been closed or evacuated in response to a wave of falsely reported bomb threats and shootings, often referred to as “coups.”
As students return to the classroom, reports of forceful beatings have surfaced at dozens of schools in Louisiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas and elsewhere. In some cases, the bogus calls have caused chaos and unsettled students, parents and educators who were already nervous about the threat of school shootings. Authorities in different states say they have leads on who may be making the threats.
The FBI defines “swat” as making a false 911 call with the intent of eliciting a response from law enforcement, particularly a SWAT team. Perpetrators of these calls often use technology to give the appearance that the emergency call is coming from the home of the person being “hit.”
Swatting calls are sometimes made as a joke and other times for revenge, but the results can turn deadly.
In Louisiana alone, 15 schools received active shooter threats Thursday from an internet-based phone number with an out-of-state area code, reports vermilion today. One of the false threats targeted Abbeville High School, southwest of Lafayette, closing the school for two hours, the newspaper reports.
Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy told the newspaper that he and officers checked each classroom before learning the phone call may have been part of a prank affecting schools across the country.
In Minnesota, at least 14 schools were targeted with false active shooter reports, Minneapolis Fox affiliate KMSP-TV reports. Authorities investigating the call said Thursday that all the calls came from a single IP address and believe a person is behind them, the station reports.
“While this was a hoax, and this is how it’s reported, and here we are another day, the trauma felt by those teachers and those students is so viscerally real,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a former educator. , during a news conference Thursday, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Walz described how his 15-year-old son received real-time video from friends hiding in closets at Mankato West High School, the school where the governor used to teach.
Schools in North Carolina and Colorado have also seen recent waves of beating incidents, according to local media.
A tally by local Fox affiliates found that more than 30 crushing incidents occurred at schools across the country between September 14 and 21, according to KMSP-TV.
Jay Farlow, a spokesman for the National Association of School Resource Officers, said news week in an email that the group did not have complete numbers on false reports in schools.
Farlow said that since a Sept. 13 hoax incident in Houston, news reports show there have been similar incidents in more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia.
Chaos erupted outside a San Antonio school Tuesday after a false active shooter report. The city is close to Uvalde, the site of one of the worst school shootings in US history in late May, and where police have been criticized for their overly cautious approach to the incident as it unfolded.
When San Antonio’s Jefferson High School was closed, parents clashed with police trying to force their way in, reports the San Antonio Express News. A man cut his arm trying to break a window to get into the school.
“I definitely got here fast. I got off work and I got here fast,” Pete Vela, the father of a 15-year-old boy, told the newspaper. “Ultimately, if there was someone there, then I don’t blame the parents for wanting to come in, especially after what happened in Uvalde.”
Amy Klinger, co-founder of the Educator’s School Safety Network, told Education Week that false reports often accompany mass shootings because some students see the threats as a way to get attention.
But he told the news outlet that repeated closures can lower the readiness of school staff and students for a real threat, while also disrupting learning.
“There’s a lot of quick responses, anxiety and messages, people trying to find their children,” Klinger said. “It’s happening a lot more than we think, and it’s having a much bigger impact.”
news week contacted the FBI for comment.