Hoax Active Shooter Threats Continue to Plague U.S. Schools

One man with a foreign accent is believed to have been making “swatting” calls to hundreds of American K-12 campuses.

Federal authorities believe a single person may be responsible for the rash of false active shooter reports that have been plaguing K-12 schools recently.

NPR reports that one man with a foreign accent has been calling hundreds of American K-12 campuses and law enforcement agencies, falsely reporting active shooter attacks are happening at schools.

At least eight counties in Georgia have been the victims of these hoax reports, also called “swatting,” reports the Savannah Morning News.  Some of those Georgia counties include Savannah, Glynn, Wayne, and Richmond. The counties that have been swatted, as well as surrounding counties, have increased law enforcement presence at schools.

“Swatting” is the making of a prank call to emergency services (usually police) so a large number of police officers or the SWAT team will be dispatched to a particular location. The practice is dangerous and can result in police accidentally shooting innocent victims.

In October, at least 14 high schools in Florida received bogus active shooter reports. In September and October, at least 28 states, including Florida, reported hoax calls made to 911 about active shooters on campus. NPR estimates that nearly 200 schools were targeted during that time frame.

One national security expert, Jason Blazakis, told NPR he believes the calls might be coming from Ethiopia.

The latest round of hoax reports is the latest example of how just one person can pose a serious threat to national security.

In November, the FBI said a single juvenile was responsible for most of the racially motivated threats of violence targeting historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) from January 4 through February 1.

The FBI is asking anyone with information to report it to 1-800-CALL-FBI, or online at tips.fbi.gov.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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