Swatting threats, with hoax reports of guns and shootings, target schools nationwide

Posted by on February 1, 2021

A hoax school gunman threat at Bay High School in Bay Village, OH, is one of multiple swatting-type threats targeting schools across the nation, according to a Cleveland-based national school safety expert. Last Friday morning before the Bay High School threat, a similar hoax gun threat occurred where the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida.

“Swatting incidents – threats made to schools with the purpose of triggering a massive response by police and other first responders – have become much more common in the past five years.  These incidents not only instill fear and panic throughout school communities, they are very costly in first responder manpower, time, and taxpayer dollars.  Sadly, they pull away first responder manpower resources needed for credible emergencies elsewhere in local communities,” said Kenneth S. Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services.

Incidents similar to that at Bay High School occurred elsewhere in the nation this past week including:

A 2015 study by National School Safety and Security Services documented 315 school bomb threats, hoaxes, and acts of violence in 43 states during the first six months of the school year from August, 2013, through January, 2014.  See https://www.schoolsecurity.org/2014/02/schools-face-new-wave-violent-threats-sent-social-media-electronic-means-study-says/

An online group named “Evacuation Squad” claimed responsibility for a wave of worldwide school bomb threats and was allegedly operating a pay-to-threaten program targeting schools in 2015, according to a report in Mashable.  See: https://www.schoolsecurity.org/2016/02/online-group-evacuation-squad-with-ties-to-russia-and-iran-claims-responsibility-for-worldwide-wave-of-school-bomb-threats/

These patterns continue today with unpredictable spikes occurring throughout the school year.  The threats often cross state, and even international, borders.

“School administrators have been understandably overwhelmed with COVID planning. But as students return to school, they must also dust off their traditional school emergency plans, train their staff, and tabletop exercise the plans with their first responders,” Trump said.

He credited school officials in Bay Village, and the responding first responders, for an effective response with building searches, crisis communications, and safe police-controlled evacuation for parent-student reunification.  “These are all things schools should be working on in their school emergency planning,” Trump added.

Ken Trump is the President of National School Safety and Security Services

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