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Three Whatcom, Skagit high schools receive false calls of an active campus shooter

Nov. 22, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:20 p.m.

By Julie Shirley Bellingham Herald

Three Whatcom and Skagit county schools were the targets of false calls of an active campus shooter Tuesday, according to a Western Alert email about 11 a.m.

Sehome High School, which is located near Western Washington University campus housing, “entered lockdown this morning after a false call of an active shooter…. Similar false-alarm calls were also placed to Blaine and Mount Vernon high schools this morning,” according to the alert.

The calls were a hoax, according to Dana Smith, Bellingham Public Schools spokeswoman.

“The school went into a lockdown for a few minutes, then it was lifted in coordination with Bellingham Police,” Smith said in an email to The Bellingham Herald.

Law enforcement also went to high schools in Pierce, Thurston, Clark and Snohomish counties Tuesday morning, according to McClatchy reporting. It’s unclear whether any of the incidents are connected. No shootings were found to have occurred at any of the schools. Police in Tacoma and Marysville said they were aware of the similar incidents in other counties.

Sehome principal Sonia Cole sent a message to students, staff and families shortly after the lockdown was lifted, Smith said.

The note said police had received reports of shots fired in a classroom. “These claims were absolutely false. Apparently, we are hearing that these false reports are being shared about other high schools in other districts. As soon as we connected with police, we went into a lockdown,” the principal wrote.

The Blaine School District first learned of the hoax about an active shooter at Blaine High School when contacted by police. Lisa Moeller, communications director for the district, said there was no lockdown at the school, but police did stop by the high school and spoke with the assistant principal.

A school resource officer was on campus at Mount Vernon High School about 9:45 a.m. when a caller reported multiple students had been shot in a classroom, according to a news release from Mount Vernon Police Lieutenant Mike Moore.

The call was “determined to be a ‘swatting’ incident, which is an unlawful event where an individual reports an incident to create a heavy police response or a disruption of activity,” Moore said.

“We know that events like this can be triggering and stressful; resources for students who feel impacted are available through Student Counseling Services by calling 360-650-3164,” according to the WWU alert.

Bellingham Herald reporter Jack Belcher contributed to this report.

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