Several Minnesota schools were closed on Wednesday after a wave of false shooting reports hit the districts.

It’s unclear how many districts were affected Wednesday afternoon, but the so-called “swattings” were reported in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Rochester, Mankato, Austin, St. Cloud and Cloquet.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it was tracking several false reports of school shootings across the state, where people claimed there were active shooters or mass casualties in classrooms. None of the reported incidents were real.

The BCA is “following these reports and keeping local law enforcement informed of the situation,” officials said in a statement.

Minneapolis Public Schools officials said police searched Washburn High School after a false active shooter report. The police confirmed that there were no threats at the school.

St. Paul police responded to a similar report shortly after noon at Johnson Senior High School, where they met with staff before sweeping the building. They didn’t find anything threatening either. And St. Cloud police followed the same process at Apollo High School.

Rochester Police and Olmsted County Deputies searched Lourdes High School shortly after someone reported a man with a gun shooting at people inside the building around 10 a.m. . Rochester law enforcement confirmed that no one was injured inside the Catholic High School, as most of the students were on summons at the time. police arrived.

Police say the call that put Lourdes on lockdown came from someone with an internet phone number and out-of-state area code who doesn’t appear to have disguised their voice, though it’s unclear whether a male or female made the call.

“This is just a despicable act,” Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said at a press conference shortly after the lockdown was lifted in Lourdes. “It really makes me feel like knowing someone would be willing to do that.”

The hoax calls in Minnesota follow a series of similar swatting attempts across the United States in recent weeks as students begin a new school year. Dozens of schools in at least 11 other states have dealt with fake pranks since Sept. 13, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Swatting involves pranking law enforcement with the intent of bringing a significant police response to a particular address.

Several pupils in Lourdes said the situation made them anxious because they did not know what was going on at first, until they saw posts on social media about the police presence in their school.

“It was very lucky where we were at the time,” said Jaylen Mwanza, a second-year student from Lourdes. Mwanza and several other students said they were grateful to the teachers who helped calm the students during the lockdown.

Makena Nyokai has two children who attend Lourdes. She was home sick when her sister called her crying, saying there was a shooter at school. She went to Lourdes shortly before noon to bring her children home after confinement.

“I was very, very shaken up,” she said. “My sons have been texting me saying they are very, very scared and very distressed.”

Mayo High School in Rochester went into lockdown shortly after Lourdes when a student reported someone was sitting in the high school parking lot with a gun. It was later confirmed that this person was a policeman who had stopped in Mayo on his way to Lourdes.

Public schools in Kasson-Mantorville canceled outdoor activities, including recess, after hearing about the Lourdes lockdown.

“We just thought about the safety precautions because we didn’t know anything,” Superintendent Mark Matuska said.

In Cloquet, about 20 minutes southwest of Duluth, someone called 911 and reported an active shooter at the high school shortly before 11 a.m., giving a room number as the location of the shooting.

Police responded immediately, Cloquet Schools Superintendent Mike Cary said, and found the report to be false – the room number did not exist at the school. The high school and adjoining middle school were locked up for about 30 minutes while police swept through the two buildings. Parents were notified and many came to pick up their children, Cary said.

“It’s incredibly disruptive when that happens,” he said, recalling a scam bomb threat called about the high school last spring.

About 40% of the school’s population either goes home for the day or doesn’t come the next day if the prank happens at night, he said.

“In my opinion, if we were serious about this, we would be looking legislatively … at how we can prevent people from logging in from unidentified phone numbers and making false claims,” ​​Cary said.

Writer Eder Campuzano contributed to this report.


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