The Associated Press reports that threats and reports of shooters at schools and colleges have been occurring for months. The goal is to get law enforcement, especially SWAT teams, to respond—hence the name “swatting.” Since June 2022, FBI officials have identified hoax swatting calls to over 250 colleges, 100 high schools, and several junior high schools.
When receiving an active shooter or bomb threat call, law enforcement responds accordingly and enacts a school-wide lockdown. Only after clearing the school and determining there is no threat to safety do the police begin to consider swatting.
In October 2022, NPR reported on hoax calls occurring in 28 states between September 13 and October 21, 2022. Already, seven states have experienced swatting from March 27 to March 30, 2023.
Last week, police responded to swatting calls in Ohio, Iowa, and New York. At the same time, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and Kansas reported swatting incidents at schools earlier this month. In February, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and California reported swatting calls.
Officials reported “distinct similarities” in the calls, including technology masking the caller’s location and the caller pretending to be in the school.
At the same time as authorities are receiving these hoax calls, mass shootings are occurring across the U.S. Hoax calls can have consequences, with the FBI noting that swatting “puts innocent people at risk.”