False school-shooting calls made to more than 10 Kansas districts

El Dorado High School was among nearly a dozen schools where law enforcement responded on Wednesday after reports of shots fired.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 8:44 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wednesday evening update: The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) said its working with local and federal agencies to track down the origin of swatting calls that led police to more than a dozen schools across Kansas on Wednesday.

The incidents frightened situation for students, teachers and parents after initially hearing there was an active shooter inside the school. All of these calls have been reported as false and no shooting was reported.

“There was no threat to our students or our staff, and we’re thrilled that everybody is safe,” said El Dorado Public Schools Interim Superintendent Miles Harvey.

Wichita North, Colby, Garden City, Lawrence, Liberal and El Dorado High School were among the school impacted.

Nearly a dozen schools in Kansas were targeted on Wednesday by swatting calls. Someone called...
Nearly a dozen schools in Kansas were targeted on Wednesday by swatting calls. Someone called cities across the state claiming there was an active shooter at the local high school. The calls have been deteremined to be false.(KWCH)

“(I was) sitting in science class, watching a video and then my mom is blowing my phone up, my mom and my dad asked if I was okay. I didn’t really know what was going on,” said El Dorado High School student Trace Fowler.

The El Dorado School district said the call came in around 8:15 Wednesday morning from a google-generated phone number. The El Dorado police chief said a call of an active shooter at the high school initially came into city hall, and officers quickly responded.

Junior Jacob Bowlin was among the students and staff told to lockdown and shelter in place.

“ (I) started seeing officers and everyone showing up. I mean, it was a serious manner at that point,” said Bowlin.

The police chief said they learned of other schools receiving reports as they were searching the school. The calls were said to be coming from someone posing as a teacher.

Still, during those moments, there were a lot of unknowns. Students said they were questioning what would happen to them.

“Not knowing if I was going to go home and see my parents or not, but yeah, I was checking in with my parents, telling them I was okay,” said student Abrahm Pena.

Students said they were glad for the response by the school and police to make sure they were safe. While there’s relief it was a hoax, there’s frustration someone would do this.

“My parents were freaking out,” said Bowlin, “especially hearing about other schools going through it. It’s just why? I mean, why? There’s not really a point to scare kids away from going to school, or even parents. literally, everyone was scared.”

Lawrence police released a dashcam video Wednesday afternoon showing its response to an “active shooter” call at the Free State High School. Although it was determined to be a hoax, LKPD said it takes swatting incidents seriously.

“...for good reason, and will continue to investigate this criminal threat with our law enforcement partners. LKPD had nearly 2 dozen officers on scene within two minutes, and were preparing to breach the doors when the School Resource Officer inside identified the incident as a hoax. (The parking lot shows officers running out to their cars to get to school.),” said the police department describing the video below.

Lawrence police along with law enforcement agencies across the state are investigating to determine the scope of this crime.

Update 11:45 a.m. Colby and Wellington High Schools have reported they also received false shooting calls on Wednesday. In Colby, law enforcement was dispatched to the district and crisis procedures were put into place, but it was determined that the call was a hoax.

Wellington Schools said the call to the high school came at around 9:30 a.m. Police responded and quickly determined the call was false.

Update 10:50 a.m. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) released a statement:

“The KBI is supporting local, state, and federal authorities in addressing the multiple school swatting calls occurring today across Kansas. We are reviewing relevant information with our partners in an attempt to identify those responsible.”

Update 10:15 a.m. Garden City police say its communications center received a call of an active shooter at Garden City High. Multiple agencies responded and found no threat to staff or students. Garden City schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution.

Liberal also received a false call Wednesday morning. The caller claimed they were a specific teacher in a specific room at Liberal High School, but neither the teacher or the room number existed. Officers searched the school and found no evidence of a shooter.

Update 9:45 a.m. Lawrence Police say a false call was made to Lawrence Free State High just before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police say the school resource officer at the school identified the call as a hoax, but police responded and are investigating the threat.

Russell police chief Jordan Harrison said Russell County 911 communications received a call from a man claiming there was a shooting at Russell High. The caller said that three students had been shot in room No. 35, a math class, and that the shooter had left the area.

Emergency officials responded to the school, and the school went into lockdown so officers could search the building. After an investigation, the school was released from lockdown and normal activities resumed.

Update 9:15 a.m The Riley County Police Department confirmed that a hoax call was made to Manhattan High School’s west campus. A spokesperson for the department said a school resource officer responded quickly and found no threat. The spokesperson said that the caller said a shooting happened “in a room that did not exist at the high school.”

Update 9:02 a.m. The Butler County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the shooting call made to El Dorado High School was a hoax. A student at the school says police have cleared the scene.

Update 8:52 a.m. Police have told Wichita Public Schools spokesperson Susan Arensman that the call made to North High was a false call.

WIBW out of Topeka reports that emergency responders remain at Highland Park High School after reports of a possible shooting. The Topeka Police department indicated that the school and the surrounding area have been cleared and no threats to students or staff have been found. Officials are aware of similar calls in the area.

WIBW reported that it was made aware of similar calls to Lawrence, Kansas City and Dodge City schools.

Emergency crews were on scene at Wichita North Wednesday morning after a call was made about a possible active shooter at the school. Crews are still working to confirm that it was a false call, but that confirmation has not been made as of 8:40 a.m.

There were also reports of a possible shooter at El Dorado High School. Butler County dispatch could not confirm that was a real report. El Dorado Police have said the call has not been cleared as of just before 9 a.m.

A person who answered the phone at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said the office had heard reports about possible active shooters in Topeka and Lawrence, but those have not been confirmed. Kansas Highway Patrol dispatch also said there have been several similar calls across the state.

We have reporters following the reports and will provide more information as it becomes available.