Lake City High School went into lockdown Wednesday morning after false reports of an active shooter.
The report prompted a full response from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department and Coeur d’Alene Fire Department at 9:30 a.m. As officers arrived, they learned of several similar false reports of school shootings throughout Idaho.
The reports included a threat to the Boundary County School District, and several other schools throughout Idaho, as well as other states.
Such hoax calls are referred to as “swatting” and have unfolded at hundreds of schools in dozens of states this school year. The fake reports cause police and SWAT teams to swarm locations.
They can be especially dangerous in schools as armed police officers enter buildings in anticipation of confronting an active shooter, such as what happened last fall at high schools in Spokane.
Initial information suggests the threat Wednesday came from outside the area, Coeur d’Alene police said.
“The calls consist of a pre-recorded message from a male with a heavy accent claiming to be a teacher and that there is an active shooter at the school,” according to a notice from the Idaho Criminal Intelligence Center.
Multiple schools reported a similar call from a Michigan area code, the center said. Schools in New Mexico and Colorado reported similar threats Wednesday. A school in Ontario, Oregon, reported a threat Tuesday.
A school resource officer at Lake City was able to put the school in lockdown immediately following the report, police said. Additional officers arrived within minutes, with more following, to help secure the school.
Coeur d’Alene police officers quickly determined the report was false. Several officers remained at the school as it transitioned back to its normal schedule, police said.
Boundary County Middle School also received a threat and was placed on lockdown. Other schools in the Boundary County School District also went into a “hall check safety hold,” according to Andrew O’Neel, director of Boundary County’s Office of Emergency Management.
Law enforcement also performed a security sweep in the Boundary County schools as a precaution, O’Neel said.
Students were also evacuated from Canyon Ridge High School, and Twin Falls High School was placed in lockdown, according to a release from the Twin Falls School District. Columbia High School in Nampa and Caldwell High School in Caldwell also went into lockdown, local authorities there said.
Spokane Public Schools was not targeted in the recent bout of threats, according school district spokesman Ryan Lancaster.
Aaron Snell, a communications director for Idaho State Police, said the calls were similar to a rash of threatening calls that targeted schools, including in Washington state, in November.
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield said Wednesday she was aware of the threats.
“State Department of Education staff have been in touch with districts and will continue to stay apprised of the situation,” she wrote in a statement. “I’m thankful for the quick action from school administrators and law enforcement to ensure the safety of students in the affected schools.”