FBI confirms ‘swatting’ calls; Mankato police respond to fake school shooting report
Police say there was no threat to the public and no active shooter at Mankato West High School, despite an initial phone call.
MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - On Wednesday, several schools in the region received similar calls providing identical details of an active shooter on school grounds, including Rochester, Duluth, and closer-to-home at Mankato West High School.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that this is part of a nationwide “swatting” campaign, which means someone called into emergency services and reported a fake incident, just to have emergency personnel respond to the address provided - targeting schools.
“The safety of our students and our schools is paramount. That is why we don’t just chalk it up to a hoax, and we respond in the way we do as thoroughly as we do,” Mankato Public Safety Director Amy Vokal said.
“We have to take them seriously. And that’s why these hoaxes are so frustrating- because of the emotional stress it places on our community,” added Scott Hare, director of student support services at Mankato Area Public Schools.
Mankato Public Safety says they were aware of the nationwide swatting reports when the initial call came to dispatch at 10:30 a.m., but police responded immediately to the school.
“We’re trained to handle an active shooter, and we were preparing for that response,” Vokal said.
Mankato West went into lockdown and police surrounded the perimeter, blocked entrances into the parking lots, and some officers held assault rifles.
Parents and community members stood near the school during the lockdown.
“We know that this is stressful for the parents, we know that this is stressful for the students, but we have to respond in a way that we take all of these threats seriously,” Hare said.
Inside the school, Vokal said that a resource officer immediately confirmed to police that he did not hear nor see anything that indicated a present active shooter.
Police searched floor-by-floor and room-by-room to ensure safety for staff and students hiding inside.
Eventually, police confirmed that there was no active shooter present and that there was no threat to the people in the school.
“This is nationwide, the FBI has already been involved for a number of days- but if we had somebody that we were able to identify that made a call, then there would be criminal consequences,” Vokal said.
School districts in the following Minnesota cities also confirmed that similar calls were placed Wednesday:
- New Ulm
- St. Paul
- Fergus Falls
- Grand Rapids
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