Pennsylvania law enforcement were dispatched to several schools that received active shooter calls and bomb threats just days after the school shooting in Nashville that left six people dead.
The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating a series of prank phone calls to 9-1-1 centers in various counties that involved threats against several schools and resulted in diversion of law enforcement resources and interruption of school activities.
One of the schools to receive a threat was Lehighton High School, which received a message from the police regarding supposed gunfire at the school.
The call led to the school being put on lockdown. However, school police later discovered that the reports were unfounded and lifted the lockdown.
The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) responded to all incidents in their primary coverage areas and have been in contact with municipal law enforcement partners for ongoing investigations.
Authorities believe that the threats were “computer-generated ‘swatting’ calls” and are following standard protocols to respond to each incident.
“PSP Holliday and Rockview stations are responding to active shooter threats at local schools that have been called in by telephone,” PSP tweeted at the time. “We are treating each incident with standard law enforcement protocols. However, the calls are believed to be computer-generated swatting calls.”
“Swatting” refers to the intentional reporting of a false crime or emergency to prompt an aggressive response from police agencies.
Such hoax calls have become increasingly common this year, with police agencies reporting numerous swatting instances targeting schools across the country.
In several cases, swatting has put innocent lives in danger.
According to a statement by the FBI Pittsburgh office, law enforcement “takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk.”
A 20-year-old man from Washington State was recently arrested for making more than 20 “swatting” calls across the U.S. and Canada last year.
Ashton Connor Garcia allegedly used voice-over-internet technology to disguise his identity as he placed the calls last year and broadcasted them on the social media platform Discord for entertainment purposes.
He faces 10 felony counts that could bring up to a decade in prison.
The most recent calls took place just two days after a former student broke into the Covenant School — a Christian elementary school in Nashville — and killed three children and three adults.
Police are still searching for a suspect.
There have been several violent incidents in schools, including a massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year; a first-grader who shot his teacher in Virginia; and a shooting last week in Denver that wounded two administrators.