Gloucester Police Department Responds to ‘Swatting’ Call at Gloucester High School

Chief Edward Conley reports that the Gloucester Police Department responded to an alleged act of “swatting” that briefly interrupted classes at Gloucester High School. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 12:25 p.m., Gloucester Police Department received a 911 call claiming that there was an active shooter on the High School campus.

School Resource Officer Mike Scolawho is staffed at Gloucester High School, responded immediately, asdid members of the Gloucester Police and Fire Departments.

The school immediately ordered a shelter in place, in accordance with established policies and procedures. 

Officers searched the building and grounds extensively to ensure no unauthorized individuals were on campus. Police quickly determined the call was one of numerous swatting incidents that have occurred statewide since Monday. Classes returned to normal by 12:56 p.m.

“We take all emergency calls seriously, but hoax calls such as a swatting tie up resources that could be responding to other crises,” said Chief Conley. “We as a Department train for these types of responses, and are pleased that our officers utilized their training and followed emergency procedures.”

“I’m very appreciative of how seriously our staff, students, and school leaders responded today,” said Superintendent Ben Lummis. “Even though people were anxious, they followed our emergency protocols throughout the police search. I also extend our thanks to the Gloucester Police Department for their quick response to ensure there was no threat. Our staff will provide additional support to any students or colleagues who need it as a result of this incident.”

The incident is known to be one of more than a dozen swatting incidents that have occurred around the state and region since Monday. 

“While I am relieved that today was just a scare, I am disheartened that our students, staff, and their families had to experience this unfortunate incident,” said Mayor Verga. “I want to thank Gloucester Police and Gloucester Fire for their quick response and professionalism, and appreciate their ongoing collaboration with Gloucester Public Schools to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren.”

“Swatting,” according to Oxford Language is “the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.” The phrase entered the dictionary in 2015 and has been recognized as a criminal phenomenon by the FBI since at least 2008. 

While there is no indication of any ongoing threat to the school community, Gloucester Police remained at the high school through dismissal. 

The incident remains under investigation by Gloucester Police. Gloucester Police have been in communication with state and federal law enforcement, which are investigating a series of incidents targeting communities around the Commonwealth this week.

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