Fake active shooter threats cause widespread panic in Virginia schools

It’s been a frightening 24 hours for several Virginia schools after reports of active shooters.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s been a frightening 24 hours for several Virginia schools after reports of active shooters.

In many cases, police swarmed buildings. Classrooms went on lockdown, and parents feared the worst. However, each time officers rushed into a school. They found no sign of a threat.

This wave of false alarms is an extremely dangerous trend beyond just Virginia.

On Monday morning, there was a report of an active threat at Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond. When the police arrived, they found nothing.

“We think we were a victim of ‘swatting.’ Swatting is a fake call to 911 alleging an active shooter or something similar to get a large police response,” RPS Spokesperson Matthew Stanley told NBC12. “There’s been several similar calls to seven or so schools in Virginia. We received a memo from the Virginia Fusion Center yesterday after the T.J. phony call.”

Greensville County High School students learned off-site Tuesday after a false threat caused widespread panic.

“Safety is paramount to us,” Greensville County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Edwards said in a video to families. “If you see something, please continue to say something so that we can assure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff in Greensville County Public Schools.”

Tuesday afternoon, Buford Middle School in Charlottesville dealt with a false alarm. E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg and Charlottesville High School both targeted Monday.

“All the cops started coming inside the school and surrounded the whole building,” Edgar Torres, a Charlottesville High School senior.

Several schools in Hampton Roads and Eastern View High School in Culpeper County saw similar hoaxes.

“There currently is a wave of swatting going on, where apparently some ‘robo calls’ are going to 911 centers schools with the threat of an active shooter. We, however, know that most of these are not actively threats being made on campus, but they are someone just pulling pranks,” Director of the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety Donna Michaelis said.

Whenever there’s a report of a threat of imminent violence, schools have to contact law enforcement, who often bring in SWAT teams.

“It is a crime to make a threat against schools, against school property, or against students and staff,” Michaelis said. “That will be dealt with by law enforcement, and it will be taken very seriously.”

Not only is “swatting” a waste of resources, but it’s also putting innocent people in danger.