More than a dozen schools across the state of New Hampshire were reportedly attacked by active shooters on Thursday morning, but the state’s Department of Security (DoS) determined the calls reporting the shooting were a hoax. generalized.
The DoS said in a press release on Thursday that the scam calls were made just before 10 a.m., but did not specify how many or which schools were targeted. They said all the calls were “similar in nature”.
The scam calls immediately quarantined schools and caused panic among teachers, students and parents, but no one was reportedly injured in the incidents.
Which schools were targeted
Concord Public Schools said several of his schools were among those targeted by the Thursday morning prank calls, including Concord High School, Rundlett Middle School, Abbot-Downing School and Christa McAuliffe School.
The district said St. John’s Regional School, a Catholic K-8 school in Concord, was also targeted.
New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) reported on Thursday that officials in Dover, Portsmouth and Keene said their high schools were among those targeted by the prank calls.
The Concord Monitor reported that Franklin High School and schools in Claremont were also targeted, while WCAX reported that Lebanon Middle School was among the schools targeted, and WMUR reported that schools in Whitefield, Laconia and Littleton were also victims of the calls. of hoax.
In total, at least 14 schools in nine of New Hampshire’s largest cities have reportedly been targeted by hoax active shooter calls.
How officials responded
Many targeted schools resumed normal operations on Thursday after the calls were found to be bogus.
“Today we saw schools using their emergency operation plans to respond to calls,” Robert Buxton, Director of DoS, said in a press release. “These incidents continue to show us why it’s important for schools to conduct training and drills on these plans, throughout the school year, in partnership with their local first responders.”
The DoS said it was working with state and local law enforcement, as well as the FBI, to identify the source of the calls.
The FBI could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
“Today’s incident highlighted the effective communication and collaboration between my office, the New Hampshire Department of Security and Education, and local agencies,” Governor Chris Sununu said in the statement. “We continue to make the safety of New Hampshire schools a top priority.”
How School Communities Responded
Even though the active shooter calls turned out to be false, New Hampshire parents, teachers and students said they were traumatized by the experience.
Seacoast Online reported that Portsmouth Councilor Andrew Bagley was seen outside Portsmouth High School on Thursday morning, fighting back tears after his daughter-in-law, who is in Year Two at the school, texted him saying “If I die, I love you”.
NHPR reported that a parent in Concord named Amy Rigo was terrified after discovering that St. John’s Regional School and Concord High School were apparently repelling active shooters because she has children enrolled at both schools.
“It was like, which direction should I run first?” said Rigo. “It was heartbreaking.”
Where else is it going
The type of prank call New Hampshire schools received Thursday morning is called “swatting.”
According to Business Insider, it started as a way to prank gamers and YouTubers during live streams. The idea was to make a call to the police, triggering a response from the SWAT team at the livestreamer’s house. Then the person who made the prank call was watching the live stream interrupted by heavily armored police.
These types of calls are now being made in schools and the homes of politicians and celebrities in an effort to disrupt the lives of victims.
New Hampshire is not the first New England state to be targeted. Maine Public Radio reported last month that 10 Maine schools received this type of prank call on the same day, prompting widespread closures.
While it’s unclear if any of these incidents are related, an NPR analysis has alleged that one person may be responsible for more than 200 fake active shooter calls that were made at schools across the states. States between September and October 2022.
What happens next
The FBI is investigating, but it’s unclear when and if the bureau will release further information about these incidents.
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