At least 13 Louisiana schools hit by swatting attempts in disturbing trend

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Schools across the country have been locked up or evacuated in response to a spate of falsely reported shootings and bomb threats, often referred to as “swatting.”

As the students return to class, there have been reports of slapping at dozens of schools in Louisiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas and elsewhere. In some cases, the hoax calls have sparked a pandemonium and upset students, parents and educators already on edge over the threat of school shootings. Authorities in several states say they have clues as to who could be making the threats.

The FBI defines “swatting” as making a fake call to 911 with the intent of getting a response from law enforcement, especially a SWAT team. Perpetrators of these calls often use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the home of the person being ‘swaddled’.

Chicago Police SWAT team members surround a home in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on July 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Schools across the country have seen a spate of ‘swatting’ incidents as students return to school.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Swatting calls are sometimes made as a joke and other times for revenge, but the results can be deadly.

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In Louisiana alone, 15 schools received active gunman threats on Thursday from an Internet-based phone number with an out-of-state country code. Vermilion today. One of the false threats was against Abbeville High School, southwest of Lafayette, and locked the school for two hours, the paper reports.

Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy told the paper that he and the officers searched every classroom before learning that the call may have been part of a prank that had hit schools nationwide.

In Minnesota, at least 14 schools were targeted by fake reports of active gunmen, Minneapolis TSWT-affiliated KMSP-TV reports. Authorities investigating the call said on Thursday that all calls came from a single IP address and believe there is one person behind it, the station reports.

“While this was a hoax, and that’s how it’s being reported, and here we are on another day, the trauma felt by those teachers and those students is so entrenched,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said. a former educator, at a news conference Thursday, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

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Walz described how his 15-year-old son received real-time videos of 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 a recent spate of swatting incidents, according to local media.

A tally by local TSWT affiliates found that more than 30 swatting incidents occurred in schools across the country between Sept. 14 and Sept. 21, according to KMSP-TV.

Jay Farlow, spokesperson for the National Association of School Resource Officers, said: News week in an email that the group had no comprehensive figures 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 broke out outside a school in San Antonio on Tuesday after a false report of active gunmen. The town is near Uvalde, the site of one of the worst school shootings in US history in late May, and where police have been criticized for their overcautious approach to the incident as it unfolded.

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When Jefferson High School in San Antonio closed down, parents clashed with police trying to get in, reports the San Antonio Express News. A man cut his arm when he tried to break a window to enter the school.

“I definitely came here quickly. I left work and came quickly,” Pete Vela, a parent of a 15-year-old boy, told the newspaper. “Ultimately, if anyone was inside, I don’t blame the parents for wanting to go 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 threats as a way to get attention.

But she told the news channel that repeated lockdowns could reduce the readiness of school staff and students to a real threat, while also disrupting learning.

“You have a lot of quick reactions, fear and messages going out, people scrambling 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.

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