School ‘swatting’ prank spares Aiken County but sweeps S.C.
AIKEN, S.C. - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating an outbreak of hoax school threats that swept the state on Wednesday.
While the hoaxes affected many districts, the largest South Carolina district in the CSRA – Aiken County Public Schools – was spared by the pranksters.
The threats are thought to be an attempt at swatting — making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of first responders.
No shooters or victims have been found at any school across the state.
“While at this time the threats are believed to be a hoax, SLED encourages each jurisdiction to take any and all threats seriously,” the agency said.
SLED is working with other law enforcement agencies to evaluate the credibility of these threats.
Anyone with information about the threats is urged to contact local law enforcement.
Gov. Henry McMaster addressed the incidents, saying, “It’s just ridiculous and it’s a crime.”
“I’m informed by law enforcement that those are not legitimate calls,” McMaster said. “I hope that they find who’s doing that, I hope that kind of conduct will stop immediately.”
The governor said Mark Keel, the chief of SLED, said the calls have all been roughly the same and allege a child has been shot or someone has been killed at a school.
“They think this voice or this transmission is coming from another country,” McMaster said. “It’s a foreign voice ... and they believe that it is all a hoax.”
McMaster said the incidents are not just isolated to South Carolina; similar situations have occurred in other states. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in the case, as well.
A regional spokesperson for the FBI released the following statement:
“The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. Similar incidents have occurred recently across the country. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson tweeted he was “disgusted” by the fake active shooter calls and said “the state will not treat them as jokes.”
Under state laws, swatting is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.
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