Hoax swatting calls force many North Iowa schools on lockdown

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(ABC 6 News) – Several schools in northern Iowa and across the state went on lockdown Tuesday morning after receiving threats of shootings which turned out to be fake.

The Mason City Police Department said dispatch received a call of a shooting at Mason City High School. Officers responded and found the school was secure and operating normally.

The Clear Lake Police Department received a phone call at 9:35 a.m. on Tuesday stating two people were shot at the Clear Lake High School. The call was received over the department’s administrative phone lines, not 911. While officers were responding to the reported incident, contact was made with school officials who did not know of any issues occurring. The high school was placed into lockdown until the incident could be investigated.

While officers were at the scene, CLPD received a message from the Iowa Department of Homeland
Security regarding school shooting swatting calls occurring throughout the state.

Clear Lake officers and school officials checked the buildings and area. CLPD will provide increased
patrols to the schools throughout the rest of the week. The incident remains under investigation.

Dear District Parents and Guardians,
At 9:40 am this morning the high school received a swatting phone call from Clear Lake Police
Department informing us that they received a call from a Honolulu, Hawaii phone number stating that
there was an active shooting at Clear Lake High School shooting in one of the bathrooms. “Swatting
calls” are calls made to law enforcement or directly to schools, businesses, public libraries, or other
entities where the public gathers. These calls are an attempt to trigger the dispatch of emergency
services to a particular address. The dispatcher stated to us that he felt that the number was probably a
swatting call.

At 9:41, the high school and middle school went into lockdown. At 9:42, Clear Lake Police were on site
and with their assistance we did a full sweep of the entire middle school and high school campuses to
ensure there was no threat or dangerous assailant on our campus. There was zero evidence found that
there was any threat inside of either the high school or middle school buildings.

After reviewing the information with police, getting a message from the Clear Lake Police Chief that homeland security has notified local law enforcements in Iowa that several spam calls going out to school districts across the country claiming their is an active shooter in your school, and it was determined by local school administration and local law enforcement that the school is safe and normal school activities will resume as norm. School officials will be monitoring the high school and middle school campus throughout the day along with the help of local law enforcement patrolling the area outside to ensure
that all school district employees and students are safe.

Clear Lake Schools Administrationc

“If there were students in the school who knew that there were no guns to protect them in there from shooters coming in I’d be afraid. Cause what are they gonna do? How are they gonna get away from it,” said Clear Lake Resident, David Krukow.

The Charles City Police Department said its officers along with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office responded to the high school and middle school for a threat call which was determined to be a hoax.

Captain Brandon Franke with the Charles City police department says the responses is standard practice.

“Obviously we’re going to respond as if it is a legit call just because we don’t know at that time,” Franke said.

Franke wants parents and the public to know that real or fake, their response is the same.

“if the call does come in we’re gonna respond. We’re gonna check things out and make sure everybody’s safe. I really don’t understand what they’re trying to prove with these types of calls,” Franke explained.

Other schools around Iowa reported similar incidents. In Clinton County, the Clinton Police Department responded to a reported shooting at the high school. The school said there was no evidence of any shooting and the school was cleared. However, the school did cancel classes for the day.

In Muscatine, police reported that the high school and a local elementary school had been swatted. Police say the call was made outside of Iowa. Both schools went into a temporary lockdown until police determined there was no credible threat.

A statement made by the school district and distributed by police says the threat “also referenced a staff member’s name that does not exist within our high school or district.”