Mass. Officer Accidentally Fires Gun During Swatting Incident at St. John’s Prep
Local police originally responded to the report of an active threat but the accidental discharge led to a larger law enforcement response.
DANVERS, Mass. — A police officer responding to an incident later determined to be a swatting threat at a Massachusetts school accidentally fired his service weapon, triggering a larger law enforcement response.
During a press conference, Chief James P. Lovell said Danvers Police initially responded to St. John’s Preparatory School, an all-male Catholic school serving grades 6-12, after receiving a report that someone “was threatening to cause harm” in a bathroom at Brother Benjamin Hall, reports Boston.com. An unnamed Danvers Police officer entered the bathroom and accidentally fired his weapon. No one else was in the bathroom but several people inside the hall at the time of the accidental discharge called 911, elevating the situation from a typical swatting response to an actual active shooter response.
“Our initial response was a small response of our patrol force. Due to the accidental discharge, that’s what really kind of ramped up the response,” said Lovell. “Typically we would have probably just kept our patrol force investigating initially, but when we had that report we didn’t know where it happened originally or how it occurred so we had a large response.”
Dozens of Massachusetts State Police (MSP) troopers and Danvers Police officers responded just before 2 p.m. The school entered an “enhanced lockdown protocol” as officers continued to sweep the 175-acre campus. No threats were identified.
As each room was given the all-clear, students were evacuated outside to a tent that had been used for the school’s commencement on Saturday. Students were then bussed to a nearby Stop & Shop parking lot where a reunification area was set up for parents.
Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, MSP issued its “final update,” stating the threat “has been confirmed to be a hoax.” Authorities are working to identify who made the swatting call and to determine why the officer’s gun went off.
St. John’s announced Monday night that classes would be canceled Tuesday but resume Wednesday. School counselors will be available for students and staff.
Boston College High School, another all-male Catholic prep school near Boston, confirmed it also received a similar call around the same time, a school spokesperson told WBZ-TV. Two weeks ago, a similar hoax threat was investigated at St. John’s of Shrewsbury.
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