DENVER (AP) — Threats made against schools across the United States led to the evacuation of students Monday in what could be the latest example of so-called “swatting” against schools.
In recent months, hoaxers playing online games have allegedly used proxy servers and other high-tech identity-disguising tools to anonymously threaten schools online or in phone messages with electronic voices to trigger a huge police response, including SWAT teams.
The latest threats led to the evacuation of schools in Colorado, Utah, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Media outlets in the United Kingdom also reported evacuations.
The threats were made against elementary, middle and high schools, with some schools choosing to continue classes and others to put buildings on lockdown rather than evacuate. Some schools resumed classes after sweeps by authorities failed to turn up explosives or other threats.
Some officials described Monday’s threats as automated or robotic and at least two — at Lakewood HighSchool outside Denver and at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Rochester, Minnesota — came in just before noon local time. Also in Minnesota, Forest Lake Elementary in the city of Forest Lake was evacuated after getting a bomb-threat call around 12:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, students at Murray High School outside Salt Lake City were sent home and bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in. No explosives were found.
Two elementary schools were evacuated in Colorado — Liberty Point Elementary School in Pueblo West and Cherokee Trail Elementary in the Denver suburb of Parker. Cherokee Trail is in the same district where two 16-year-old girls are accused of plotting an attack against their high school. No other schools in the district were evacuated, spokeswoman Paula Hans said.
In Pennsylvania, unconfirmed reports indicate three Allegheny County schools received threats and were evacuated, but no evidence of bombs were found by authorities.