Swatting call forces Banfield elementary into lockdown; threat also made to Albert Lea school

[anvplayer video=”5164960″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Law enforcement responded to a swatting call concerning Banfield Elementary School in Austin on Monday morning.

The Austin Police Department said at 9:53 a.m., Mower County Dispatch took a call that an active shooter was at Banfield Elementary School. The call ended with what the dispatcher believed were gunshots in the background.

Austin police said their patrol staff and Mower County Sheriff’s deputies responded. Law enforcement did not find any evidence that a shooting took place. However, they did make entry into the school as if an event was ongoing including breaching a door.

Austin police said they believe the hoax call was made maliciously in order to generate such a response.

Austin Public Schools (APS) said Banfield Elementary School went into a short-term lockdown as law enforcement secured the building. All other District buildings were put into a hold out of an abundance of caution.

APS officials and law enforcement determined the incident was not credible, and the school has returned to normal operations. Resources will be available to respond to students, staff and parents as needed.

APS superintendent Joey Page released the following statement:

“Here at Austin Public Schools, our priority is the safety and well-being of our students, their families, and our staff. Each of our schools has established a safety plan and lockdown procedures that contribute to maintaining a safe learning environment for our students. In the wake of this incident and part of our practice, school personnel will review those plans and continue our ongoing relationship with law enforcement to ensure we do everything we can to maintain the safety and security of our schools.”

Dr. Joey Page, APS superintendent

Austin police said they have been in communication with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension about the incident.

Meanwhile, Albert Lea Police said they responded to a reported bomb threat at Halverson Elementary School at 9:35 a.m., Monday, 18 minutes before the Austin incident.

Freeborn County Dispatch received a call saying a person was about to enter the school with explosives and a firearm. Officers were immediately dispatched to the scene and the school was notified.

A preliminary investigation found no threat. The person or persons responsible has not been identified.

The communications director with Albert Lea Area Schools said Monday was a non-instructional day as elementary schools had scheduled parent-teacher conferences.

Albert Lea Police said this is the third such incident at Albert Lea Area Schools they have responded to in the 2022-2023 school year.

ABC 6 News will provide more information when it becomes available.