Nearly 30 schools in Mass. targeted in fake ‘swatting’ calls Tuesday, one day after 9 killed in Nashville school shooting
An all-too-realistic, “live” voice delivered a chilling message to the Malden Police public access phone line on Tuesday morning. The caller reported that an active shooter was holding five people in a bathroom at Malden Catholic High School, according to reports.
Malden Police were on the scene “in less than 2 minutes” and were able to quickly assess there was no true threat, Malden Catholic President John Thornburgh told television news reporters on the scene late Tuesday morning. “There is currently no ongoing threat to public safety in relation to Malden schools,” police officials said in the Facebook post, shortly after the initial report was received.
Similar calls were made to about 30 schools statewide and came less than 24 hours after the nation’s most recent mass shooting Monday. Six people, including three nine year olds, were shot and killed at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn.
According to reports, a call was placed to the Malden Police nonemergency line around 10:00 a.m. A cadre of nearly a dozen Malden Police officers swiftly arrived on scene. The officers entered the building and after a rapid search – including where the initial report indicated where the “active shooter” was reportedly holed up – the call was ruled as false, with no suspicious activity at the school.
“The police were here, I think, in less than two minutes,” Malden Catholic President John Thornburg told a Channel 5 television reporter. “We went immediately into our lockdown drill. Faculty, staff and students did a great job.
“Within 15 minutes [police] had cleared the building and established there was no threat,” Thornburg added.
Malden Catholic was one of at least 10 schools in Eastern Mass., and one of approximately 30 statewide targeted by the hoax “swatting” calls. “Swatting” is an action or practice of making a hoax call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address. Since “swatting” is a federal crime, state and federal authorities – along with Malden Police – are joining together in the investigation.
“We are aware of calls to 28 communities as of now, including multiple calls to school districts in Eastern, Western and Southeastern Mass. We are assisting in the response to the schools in some communities,” a Massachusetts State Police spokesperson said. “Our Fusion Center, along with our partner agencies, is investigating the source of the calls.”
In addition to Malden Catholic, hoax “swatting” calls were also reported at the following schools: Westwood, Adams, Bellingham, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Haverhill, Mansfield, Medway, Melrose, Milford, Northampton, Reading, Stoughton and Taunton, among others.
Malden Police Dept. statement on social media regarding the hoax “swatting” call on Tuesday
Following is the full text of a social media post by Malden Police on Facebook regarding Tuesday morning’s hoax call regarding Malden Catholic High School:
A call was placed earlier [Tuesday] morning to the Malden Police Department’s non-emergency line. The caller reported an “active shooter” incident at Malden Catholic High School.
Law enforcement promptly responded to the school while information was still being transmitted. While on the scene at Malden Catholic High School, it was quickly discovered that the initial information presented was inaccurate and/or could not be validated as factual.
The officers continued to patrol the school for any signs of danger or suspicious activity. The officers found nothing of concern at the time, especially in relation to the information reported just minutes before.
Officers who were looking into the Malden incident found that similar calls had been made in other parts of the state. Nonetheless, the Malden incident was examined as if it were true until it was proven otherwise.
However, it’s critical not to become complacent. If you see something suspicious, please reach out to your respective law enforcement agency.
There is currently no ongoing threat to public safety in relation to Malden schools.
Stay safe and be well.