WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Several schools across the state received threats of active shootings on Wednesday.
So far, Wichita North High, El Dorado High School, Wellington High School, Russell High School, Garden City High School, Liberal High School, Manhattan High School West Campus, Topeka‘s Highland Park High, Lawrence Free State High School, the Udall school district, and the Salina districts have all been called. However, all calls have been false and unfounded, KSN News has learned.
USD 259 Wichita released this statement:
We were notified by PD that they received a call around 8 am. The school immediately went into lockout/lockdown while WPD, North admin and security checked the entire building and gave an all-clear about 15 minutes later. WPD believes this to be another hoax call, similar to the one we received in September.”Susan Arensman, USD 259 news and media relations manager
The Wichita Police Department said they “take these calls very seriously.” The department checked the school and found no threat to students or staff.
“Swatting calls are alarmist and detrimental to the community by tying up public safety resources,” Wichita Police Officer Chad Ditch said. “Shootings are a serious problem in our society, and we will work with other agencies to try to determine the cause of these false reports.”
USD 490 El Dorado released this statement:
Around 8:10 this morning, a Google generated number called dispatch to report a shooter at El Dorado High School. Law enforcement was immediately dispatched and the district enacted the lockdown protocols for all USD 490 buildings as outlined in our crisis plans. We are grateful for the prompt and thorough response from the El Dorado Police Department, Butler County Sheriff’s Office, City of El Dorado, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Department and our district staff.
“Law enforcement thoroughly checked the school and its grounds to determine that there was no threat to students or staff. The call was a hoax generated from outside of our community. Several other school districts across the state received similar reports this morning.
“After it was determined that there was no immediate threat, the lockdown was lifted for the middle and elementary schools while law enforcement finished checking EHS. Less than an hour after it was initiated, the lockdown at EHS was also lifted. Parents had the option to sign their students out if they wished, but classes and activities resumed as scheduled. Counselors will remain available for students and staff.
“During any crisis, our top priority is the safety of our students and staff. During emergency events, we are committed to doing our best to keep everyone informed, and will send updates as they become available.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding this morning. Parent cooperation allows us to focus our attention on our students and staff during emergency situations. Keeping the roads and parking lot to the schools clear during a crisis allows emergency personnel to access the building unobstructed. We are proud of how our families, students, and staff handled themselves today and are so glad that this turned out to be a hoax instead of a tragedy.”Kimberly Koop, USD 490 director of Community Engagement and Recruitment
El Dorado Police Chief Mike Holden released a statement via the El Dorado Police Department Facebook page regarding the call of a shooter at El Dorado High School this morning.
Wellington USD 353 said the school resource officer was notified that someone called the high school about a possible threat at the school. Wellington police officers responded and “deemed the report to be a hoax.”
The Wellington Police Department and school officials say they are monitoring the false report but say that everyone is safe.
USD 501 Topeka released this statement to families in the district:
Secure campus in place for all East Topeka Schools while HPH remains on lockdown as a reported matter is being investigated. We do not have additional details at this time as law enforcement investigates this matter. At this time there is no confirmation of any incident, however, we take all reports of this nature seriously and we have asked all schools near Highland Park High to remain in secure campus at this time until the lockdown is lifted at HPH.”Topeka Public Schools
The Riley County Police Department also said it received a call of an active shooter at Manhattan High School West Campus. Dispatchers deemed the call “swatting,” and a school resource officer went to the scene, but the information was false. Swatting is a term given to prank calls to 911. The pranks are designed to get law enforcement officers and SWAT teams to respond.
The Lawrence Police Department said it also received similar calls around 8:30 a.m. The LPD said it responded to Free State High School, but the school resource officer identified the call as “swatting.” LPD said it is currently working with the FBI in the investigation.
Russell County 911 Communications received a call around 8:47 a.m. from a man saying there was a shooting at the high school. Officers from the Russell Police Department and Russell County Sheriff’s Office responded. The department said building administration was made aware of the alleged incident and placed the school into lockdown so officers could search the building. After a thorough investigation by law enforcement, the school was released.
The Liberal/Seward County Communications Center received a call about a shooting at Liberal High School around 9:10 a.m. The police department says the person who reported the incident claimed to be a teacher in a certain room at the school. USD 480 confirmed they didn’t have an employee by the name given, and the room didn’t exist. Officers still searched the school as a precaution.
The Garden City Police Department Communications Center received a call of a shooting at Garden City High School around 9:15 a.m. Local law enforcement responded accordingly and cleared the school and the surrounding area. The GCPD is aware of similar calls this morning across the state. As a precaution, USD 457 schools have been placed on lockdown. USD 457 Garden City said the high school would release by academies starting at 11:50 a.m.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said it is supporting local, state, and federal authorities in addressing the multiple school “swatting” calls occurring today across Kansas. In addition, the KBI said it is reviewing relevant information to identify those responsible.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it takes hoax threats and target violence again schools seriously. The FBI said issuing a threat – even over social media, via text message, or through e-mail – is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications). Those who post or send these threats can receive up to five years in federal prison or face state or local charges.
KSN News will continue to follow the latest developments.