Multiple Western Washington School Districts go into lockdown over ‘swatting’ calls

MASON COUNTY, Wash. — Several school districts in Western Washington were forced into lockdowns on Thursday all because of “swatting” calls. School districts in Shelton, Port Angelas, and Port Townsend took to social media to confirm the fake threats.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Shelton Police Department, Skokomish Police, and Squaxin Police responded to Shelton High School because of reports of a student with an AR-15. Several schools in the district went into lockdown and after law enforcement searched the entire property, they found no threat or signs of a shooting.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the threat was a swatting call, or fake threat. There have been several incidents like this in recent weeks, including a fake threat that forced Shelton View Elementary to go into lockdown on Monday. The FBI branch in Seattle tells KIRO 7 this isn’t only a big issue in Washington but throughout the nation.

“It doesn’t have to be a school. It can happen at a business. It can happen at your residence,” Spokesperson Steve Bernd said.

The lockdown was lifted once it was determined there was no threat on campus. KIRO7 spoke with parents picking up their children after school at Shelton High. They say before they found out it was a fake threat, they were pretty concerned about their kids.

“I’m in a group chat with some of my coworkers and they were like ‘Hey Karen, don’t you have a daughter at the high school?’” Karen Pursey, whose child goes to Shelton High School, said.

“It’s pretty scary. It’s really scary as a mom,” Pursey said.

Pursey says once it was determined the threat was not real, she was thankful to know that everyone would be ok. But she is worried about swatting and fake threats and the overall impact these could have on kids.

“You know, just the trauma that it’s inflicting on the children who are going to school and knowing if it is real or not real and there are so many real shootings that are happening every day,” Pursey said.

KIRO 7 reached out to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for more on the impact swatting calls are having in the Evergreen State. Superintendent Chris Reykdal sent this statement:

We take every threat against our schools seriously, and these kinds of actions are dangerous and they cause an unnecessary strain on our school staff and law enforcement. Additionally, they cause anxiety and trauma for our students and their families. Our schools work diligently to create safe school environments where students and educators can keep their primary focus on learning, and every public school in Washington state is required to have a comprehensive safety plan in place. We are thankful for our school districts, regional educational service districts, and law enforcement partners who have worked collaboratively in response to these actions to ensure our students and staff are safe.

KIRO 7 also spoke with the regional school safety centers about the growing problem. Shelby Jensen, ESD 123 Safety Coordinator, says it’s vital for school districts to have plans in case of any emergency.

“The services that ESD offers are helping schools come up with what we call their functional annexes. Their emergency response plans. Any type of acute plans so that they can prepare and be ready for any type of an emergency,” Jensen said.

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