Schools around the country have been targeted by hoax calls to police reporting active shooters and other violent threats in the last week. Many suspect that at least some of these swatting incidents are related.
Multiple schools in California, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, and Colorado have been swatted in recent days. The hoax calls to police, many of which claimed an active shooter was on campus, forced schools into lockdowns, frightened children and parents, and resulted in massive police responses.
On Monday, USA Today reported that at least 30 schools were targeted last week. Since then more than a dozen schools have been swatted.
Twitter user Molly Conger (@socialistdogmom) found reports of 13 school districts that were swatted in Virginia alone on Monday.
The sheer number of schools affected and timing of the incidents have some online commentators convinced that they’re connected.
On Monday, CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem tweeted, “In last 5 days, four [school shooting] calls were quickly followed up with a stand down. It isn’t a coincidence.”
“The thought that it might be coordinated is terrifying…not that a bunch of individuals acting simultaneously by coincidence is much better,” commented @AmzRigh.
In some, though not all, cases that appears to be correct.
A Texas-based ABC affiliate reports that calls claiming there was an active shooter at multiple schools in the state came from the same phone number.
The rash of school-swatting incidents has come to the attention of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) branches in multiple states.
“The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk and drains law enforcement resources,” the FBI Denver Field Office said in a statement.
Those affected have been taking to social media to express their trauma and outrage at whoever is behind the calls.
On Monday, a Twitter user who says they work in an elementary school tweeted, “Someone made a fake shooting threat at my school today. I work with second graders.”
“Someone swatted literal fucking children. I am emotionally exhausted.”