Multiple fake school shooting reports, swatting incidents at Minnesota schools
(FOX 9) - There have been multiple incidents on Wednesday of people reporting active shooters at schools across Minnesota, with authorities calling these "swatting" incidents.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) says it is aware of "multiple swatting incidents involving active shooter events or mass casualties at schools across Minnesota."
There have been at least 14 confirmed swatting events across the state, and there could be more, according to the BCA.
"Swatting involves making a prank call to law enforcement services in an attempt to bring a large law enforcement response to a particular address," the BCA said, adding: "Our Minnesota Fusion Center is tracking these reports and keeping local law enforcement apprised of the situation."
The BCA told FOX 9 they believe all the calls came from the same person or entity due to the similarities.
There have been at least 14 confirmed swatting incidents. Some of them include:
- Johnson Senior High School in St. Paul
- Washburn High School in Minneapolis
- Apollo High School in St. Cloud
- Mayo High School in Rochester
- Lourdes High School in Rochester
- Austin Public Schools in Austin
- West High School in Mankato
- Cloquet High School in Cloquet
- Alexandria High School in Alexandria
- New Ulm High School in New Ulm
Other affected communities include Fergus Falls, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Bemidji and International Falls.
Update: It was initially reported there were 15 swatting calls Wednesday, but the BCA clarified Thursday there were only 14 calls placed. An incident at Rosemount happened several days earlier but was reported to the BCA the same day as the other calls.
There have been at least 15 confirmed swatting incidents at Minnesota schools on Wednesday.
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller also addressed Wednesday's hoax calls, calling them "abhorrent" and frightening to students, staff, families and communities.
"Schools are and should always be places of safety and security for everyone. These types of false calls are abhorrent and are very serious. They are not a joke, nor are they simply fodder for a Tiktok video," Mueller said in a statement. "These hoax calls are frightening and disruptive to schools, students, staff, families and communities; and a slap in the face to those who have experienced these situations in real life and lost loved ones. Our schools are supposed to be safe not only with the building itself, but also with the relationships, academics, and mental and physical health support of our students."
Other states have also experienced similar "mass swatting attempts" this week, the BCA said.
A statement from Minneapolis Public Schools spokesperson Crystina Lugo-Beach says: "Earlier today, there was a false report to Minneapolis police of an active shooter at Washburn High. Several police officers came out to the school to search the building and confirmed there was no threat either inside or outside of the school. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has informed us that similar false reports were made to police about multiple schools across Minnesota today."
The BCA reminds students and communities to notify local law enforcement and school resource officers about suspected threats to schools and to contact the BCA through its app.
Incident in Cloquet
In the Cloquet incident, an unknown person called the Carlton County Sheriff's Dispatch Center at 10:37 a.m. on Wednesday, saying there was an armed suspect with an AK-47 shooting students in room 108 of the high school's English department, a news release said. The person who called 911 had a "very thick accent" and there weren't any sounds of commotion or chaos in the background of the call.
Police responded to the high school and found "nothing out of the ordinary," the release said. Police verified there was no room 108, and the English department and all other classrooms were clear. No one in the school reported hearing anything out of the ordinary in the school.
The school and police said this appeared to be a swatting attempt. And they cleared Cloquet High School and Cloquet Middle School, though officers remained on the scene for the remainder of the day.
Police said technology makes these types of calls "hard to prevent and enforce," the release said. Currently, the origins of this call are unknown.
"When an incident of this nature occurs in our city, it consumes much, if not all, of our resources," the release said, noting other agencies assisted.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.