SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Six schools across the Bay Area faced ‘swatting’ incidents on Wednesday morning, but what exactly is swatting and why is it happening so frequently?
Swatting is defined by Merriam Webster as the act of making a false report of a serious crime in order to “illicit a response from law enforcement.” Though it may seem like a prank, the act of swatting can have more serious consequences.
According to the FBI, swatting calls are dangerous to both first responders and victims. FBI says communities that experience swatting face dangers as responders rush to the scene and and leave the force’s resources depleted for other emergencies in the area. Officers and residents can both be placed in danger as they both try to defend themselves.
Sergeant Kim Macdonald with the Fremont Police Department says that swatting is a drain on resources.
“Those are resources taken away from other community members that could need police aid,” she told KRON4. Sgt. Macdonald says that though the incident was ultimately a false report, police have to respond to every call as if it were real.
The act of swatting can also earn legal consequences. According to California Penal Code Section 148.5, it is illegal to make a false report to police and you can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Bay Area Swatting Incidents
According to the Fremont Police Department, a school in the city received a false report of a shooting on campus Wednesday morning. The school was placed in lockdown as it was searched, and the lockdown was later lifted.
South San Francisco High School went into a lockdown after a report came in that there was an intruder on campus Wednesday morning. Police arrived on campus, completed a search, and ultimately determined that the call was a hoax.
San Francisco Unified School District confirmed that they received reports of an active shooter threat on Wednesday, but the school did not go into lockdown.
Woodside High School also went into a lockdown Wednesday morning after a report of an active shooter on campus. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office searched the premises and determined the threat was unfounded before the lockdown was lifted.
John Sasaki with Oakland Unified School District tells KRON4 that McClymonds High School also received false threats on Wednesday.
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The San Jose Police Department states that it also received a call of multiple students being shot at Lincoln High School. When officers arrived and began to clear the school, the call was determined to be a hoax. Police say they will investigate the caller.
Some local police departments are responding to the swatting incidents even if no threats were made in their area. Belmont Police Department reports that though no false threats were made against the city’s schools on Wednesday, the department decided to increase police presence at Belmont campuses anyway.
Swatting incidents across the nation
On Tuesday, schools across Florida experienced numerous reports of danger on campus, all were later determined to be acts of swatting. On Oct. 5, at least 18 school districts across South Carolina received hoax emergency calls. According to USA Today, there were at least 30 hoax threats reported across campuses nationwide during a one-week span in September.