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Area schools receive false reports of active shooters


Multiple schools in the area, including Smith-Cotton Junior High School, reported receiving false calls about an active shooter Monday, March 27.

According to a Sedalia Police Department news release, Pettis County Joint Communications received a call Monday that there had been a shooting at Smith-Cotton Junior High. The SPD school resource officer and school security staff assigned to the campus immediately started searching the building while SPD officers responded to the scene. Pettis County Sheriff’s Office deputies also responded to assist.

The release states that after a “thorough search of the building,” no suspects or injured students were located. SPD worked with Sedalia School District 200 staff to return the school to normal operations.

“There has been a national trend recently where prank callers have called schools around the Midwest, and even Missouri, reporting acts of violence in local schools,” the SPD release states. “The Sedalia Police Department will investigate this report and work to determine who is responsible for making the call.”

Anyone with information about the Sedalia incident is encouraged to contact Pettis County Joint Communications at 660-826-1000 and request to speak with a police officer.

“We know many of our families may be understandably concerned about school safety,” Sedalia 200 Superintendent Todd Fraley said in a letter emailed to parents. “Please know the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our priority. We take all reports of potential threats seriously, and make every effort to ensure students and staff feel safe.

“Swatting incidents – threats made to schools with the purpose of triggering a response by police and first responders – instill fear and panic throughout school communities, and disrupt first responder agencies,” he continued. “We encourage our students and school community to report anything that could constitute a threat to school safety. We work closely with the Sedalia Police Department and Pettis County Sheriff's Office to assist in these situations.”

A similar situation unfolded at Knob Noster High School.

According to a Facebook post from Knob Noster Schools, KNHS was placed on lockdown Monday due to a report of an active shooter called into the Knob Noster Police Department just before noon. Knob Noster Schools and the KNPD reported that KNPD was already conducting a routine walk-through at the school and “took immediate action and found no threats.”

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol assisted KNPD.

“The building was systematically assessed by law enforcement and all students and adults are safe with no incident,” the Knob Noster Schools post states. “Law enforcement was also dispatched to all other off base school sites to conduct a similar walk through and assessment.”

According to a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office news release, a 911 call was received by the Johnson County 911 Center reporting an alleged armed individual on the KNHS premises. KNPD and other local law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies immediately deployed units and established a security perimeter around the school.

The release states that after a “thorough search of the entire campus,” it was determined the call was a false swatting report and that no actual threat was present. No injuries were reported.

“We take all threats to the safety of our community very seriously,” Johnson County Sheriff Scott Munsterman said in the release. “Law enforcement officers are trained to respond swiftly and effectively to any potential danger.”

“Swatting” is the practice of making a fake threat to emergency services in an attempt to cause panic or dispatch a large number of armed police officers to a particular location. The false threats can range from an active shooter at a school or business to a serious crime at a private residence.

The release states that law enforcement will continue to work on tracking down the origins of the call. Further questions or information should be directed to KNPD.

Knob Noster Schools posted an update that stated law enforcement had “initial leads” on the source of the call made Monday morning.

“Law enforcement has confirmed this call came from a ‘burner phone,’” the post states. “This initial information is consistent with other ‘swatting’ calls which have occurred across the country.”

Knob Noster Schools directed parents, guardians and district employees to check their email for further information about the incident.

Fox4 in Kansas City reported that false threats affected multiple Missouri schools.

The article states that MSHP Sgt. Andy Bell said local law enforcement agencies had called for MSHP assistance at several schools Monday. Bell told Fox4 he did not have a full list of schools but was aware of SCJH, KNHS and North Kansas City High School. He said there had not been any active shooters at the schools that troopers responded to.

Bell told Fox4 they don’t know the source of the calls and that it’s too early to say if they are an attempt at swatting.

Fox4 stated that its sister stations and law enforcement reported that St. Louis and Springfield area school districts also received false shooting reports.

The fake threats to local schools on Monday came roughly an hour after a fatal shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.

According to the Associated Press, authorities say they believe the 28-year-old female shooter who killed three children and three adults was a former student. The female suspect, who police said was armed with two “assault-type” rifles and a pistol, was killed by police during a confrontation. The Covenant School has an enrollment of about 200 students from preschool to sixth grade.