School district, police share the danger of ‘swatting’ threat

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:10 PM CDT
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KENNETT, Mo. (KAIT) - Another school district fell victim to what people are calling “swatting.”

On Thursday morning, Kennett High School received a swatting call.

These are prank calls about serious threats to schools, like a bomb threat or active shooter.

Hundreds of schools across the country are getting the same calls, causing chaos and taking away resources from real emergencies.

Both the Kennett Police Department and the Kennett #39 School District are concerned and frustrated with the incident.

They both said the prank call was not funny for anyone and there will be consequences for whoever did it.

“The initial calls, when the individuals would answer, it was a recording,” said Chris Wilson, superintendent of the school district.

When the phone rang at the high school, reality sat in that anything could happen.

“So, after about 4 of those phone calls from the same number the last phone call the individual made the comment or asked the question ‘Is there a bomb’ and when the secretary said ‘Will you please repeat that’ the individual said ‘There is a bomb in the building’ and hung up,” explained Wilson.

The police were called and the school district proceeded to go into emergency protocols for this type of incident.

“Officers were dispatched along with a detective. They went out and talked with the school administration and they began to collect information on the phone call,” said Joe Stewart, assistant police chief in Kennett.

After police arrived at the scene, they found that there was no bomb on campus.

They realized the call was a prank or a “swatting” call.

The goal of swatting is to get a SWAT team or emergency crews to respond to a location, but for those emergency responders, this type of call is not funny.

“You are taking police and fire services away from actual emergencies, which could ultimately cost somebody a serious injury or life,” said Stewart.

He said five officers responded to the high school for the possible bomb threat.

“That is a lot of our resources tied up on what looks to be turned out to be a prank call,” said Stewart.

He said this could also be dangerous for the people at the location they are called to because they respond as if the threat is real.

Wilson said this prank threat also changes the course of the day for the school.

“Very disruptive and very unfortunate that someone had the mindset today that they think this would be funny or a good idea,” he said.

But although it was found to be fake safety will always be first.

“You go back to the training that you have in place you go back to the procedures you have in place,” said Wilson.

A detective is following up on leads on the call to find out who made the prank call to the school.

Senator Charles Schumer recently announced he is pushing for $10 million dollars to be given to the FBI to investigate these swatting calls in New York and across the country.