Multiple Connecticut schools were briefly locked down Friday after someone — or someones — called in fake “active shooter” reports, triggering procedures similar to ones activated across the state of New Jersey a week ago and, for some, retraumatization over the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, officials and education leaders said.
Stamford High School, in Fairfield County, got a call just before 9 am reporting an active shooter in the building, according to the mayor of Stamford. The school was immediately put on lockdown, cops responded and additional protocols associated with such threats were implemented.
It turns out that call was a hoax, Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons said. Simmons, a Democrat, noted that other Fairfield County schools received similar threats Friday morning. Staples High School in Westport, along with a middle school, also were impacted, officials said , as were Windsor Locks schools and those in Willimantic.
It wasn’t clear if all the phoned-in threats involved active shooter hoaxes.
No injuries were reported and the sources of the calls weren’t immediately clear. They came at a time when thousands of law enforcement officers in Connecticut were attending funerals for the two cops killed in an ambush last week, though it wasn’t clear if authorities were investigating that as a potential connection.
The president of the Connecticut Education Association, Kate Dias, released a statement condemning the hoaxes.
“The swatting threats across Connecticut today, calling 911 to report fake active shooting incidents in our schools, are shocking, appalling, and downright dangerous,” she said. “We need to take all threats seriously to ensure the safety of our students, teachers , and communities and quickly put an end to the fear, danger, and disruption they create.”
“For Connecticut, these false incidents are extremely traumatic and painful and a vivid reminder of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took 26 innocent lives nearly 10 years ago,” Dias added. “We must all do our part to be diligent and report anything suspicious and work with law enforcement to put an end to this public safety threat.”
Friday’s developments in Stamford echoed ones exactly a week ago, when a series of swatting incidents — hoax calls reporting serious crimes designed to draw large emergency responses to a single place — locked down high schools in at least a half-dozen New Jersey counties within a half-hour span, indicating a possible targeted attack.
Last week’s swatting in New Jersey started around 11 am A school in Toms River was locked down. Emergency correspondence indicated more than a half-dozen other high schools in at least five counties got similar calls around the same time, triggering the same responses. No active threat was found in any of those cases.
Swatting involves a fake emergency call about a series crime — an active shooter, in some cases — that forces a large-scale emergency response, directing police and other resources en masse. Similar incidents were reported across the country in the week prior, involving schools from California to Florida to South Carolina and other states.
It wasn’t clear Friday if law enforcement believed a single person or multiple people to be responsible for the series of swatting incidents targeting US schools or if the hoaxes were random. No additional updates were provided.