False reports of school shootings all over Nebraska and the country
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Several false reports of school shootings have been placed to 911 call centers across Nebraska and the country Thursday morning. The Nebraska State Patrol said there is no credible information that any such school shooting has taken place in Nebraska Thursday.
The hoax calls have been placed about schools in Lincoln, Omaha, Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, Columbus, Fremont, Valentine and Gering Thursday.
NSP said there have been distinct similarities in the calls received by schools in other states, such as the use of VOIP technology to mask the caller’s identity and location, using or mocking a foreign accent, mispronouncing school or town names, and pretending that they are hiding inside the school themselves.
Some of the schools briefly went into lockdown as a precaution.
“There was a disruption in learning today but the good news is our kids are safe,” Col. John Bolduc said.
Earlier this week, the Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC), a division of NSP, provided a bulletin to law enforcement agencies across the state and the Nebraska Department of Education regarding a trend of “swatting” calls that had been reported in several other states this year, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, and Vermont. That bulletin advised local agencies to be prepared in the event the calls target Nebraska schools, which occurred Thursday.
Anyone with information regarding the origin of these calls is urged to call NIAC at 888-580-6422 or submit an online tip at the NIAC Suspicious Activity Report site https://sars.nebraska.gov.
Lincoln Police received a phone call Thursday morning from someone falsely reporting an emergency at Lincoln High.
“Lincoln Police working with our staff were able to quickly determine the call was a hoax and part of a national trend aimed at disrupting the learning environment in our schools,” an LPS spokesperson said. “We appreciate the continued collaboration and communication with our law enforcement partners. Earlier this week our security department was already aware of the national trend and working with law enforcement on how to best manage ‘swatting’ incidents which allowed us to be prepared for today’s event. It is important we do not further contribute to the disruption created by these bad actors.”
Hastings High School went into lockdown briefly Thursday morning following their hoax call. Police said the caller claimed they were a teacher hiding in a room and there was an active shooter in the school.
Police said the 911 center was immediately suspicious as the name of the teacher and the room number do not exist.
As a precaution the school went into lockdown and police were dispatched to the school. Police remained at the school to monitor everyone’s safety and answer questions.
Grand Island Public Schools said they received a phony call regarding a school shooting Thursday morning too.
“Out of due diligence, GIPD responded to our building this morning and informed us of the call and to affirm their support of our safety efforts,” a GIPS spokesperson said. “Please know these calls are unsubstantiated and phony. We have been working with the GIPD as they investigate the origin of these calls hitting Midwestern schools. All of our students and staff are safe. No learning has been disrupted and business is operating as usual.”
Kearney Police said their 911 center received a call at 8:53 a.m. about a shooting at the high school. Kearney Police responded and immediately confirmed there was no shooting or active threat.
“Members of the Kearney Police Department take these calls very seriously along with our partners at Kearney Public Schools,” Police Chief Bryan Waugh said. “We will work with our allied agencies and law enforcement partners who also experienced the same type of call today in an attempt to identify those responsible. KPD also communicated with all schools in Kearney to ensure the safety of each school and no additional calls were received. Thank you to everyone who responded and the great work from our Buffalo County Communications professionals”
Administrators at Gering High School said a Google-generated number called police dispatch to report an emergency at the high school at 8:30 a.m.
Law enforcement was dispatched to the district immediately, and the district crisis plan procedures were put in place. Police performed walk-throughs at all GHS buildings and determined that the call was a hoax.
Although this report was a hoax, all Gering Public Schools will remain in elevated security throughout the remainder of the day.
Valentine High School was put into lockdown for 45 minutes following a report of a school shooting that turned out to be false. The school activated its Standard Response Protocol at the high school and elementary school.
“Restrooms and hallways were cleared, all doors were locked, all students and staff were accounted for, and no one was allowed to enter or exit the building,” school officials said. “VHS remained in lockdown until the command was lifted by police once they swept and cleared the school building. The Secure command at VES was lifted at that time as well.”
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