Parents react to trend of fake school shooting calls

Experts, parents react to new fake school shooting trend
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:32 PM MDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 10:47 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Over the past week, a new trend of unfounded school shooting calls has surfaced. These calls warrant police response and investigation from local and state authorities.

The trend is called “swatting.” It’s an issue that Colorado law enforcement saw at a few schools across the state on Monday. A high school in Colorado Springs was one of the schools targeted:

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with 11 News that this school was Vista Ridge High School. The school was never directly contacted, only the Colorado Springs Police Department dispatch center.

These calls about fake emergencies are being investigated by local authorities as well as the FBI.

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) said that this trend has become prevalent across the country, providing a list of states that have seen these calls in the past week alone.

Kristin Krause, a mom in Colorado Springs, said that these calls, real or not, have real impact.

“It keeps everybody on edge all the time,” she said. “How are you supposed to be able to trust that your child is going to school and is going to be safe?”

Mo Canady, the executive director for NASRO, tells 11 News that this anxiety goes beyond parents; it can affect kids’ mental health, as well.

“Whether it’s real violence or assumed violence that’s occurring, there’s no question in my mind that that’s going to have significant impact on the mental health of students,” he said.

That’s why he said it’s important that parents and school staff be aware of this issue, and take every call seriously.

“This is where adults have to -- a phrase I like to use -- is is to really keep their head on a swivel in the school environment,” Canady said. “Every student needs at least one trusted adult in the school environment.”

He also encourages students to utilize resources, such as school counselors. His philosophy of taking every call seriously is echoed by Colorado Springs parent and preschool teacher Tabitha Watkins.

“Don’t take it lightly,” she said. “Always follow through and, I mean, even if it’s a joke, just be safe. It’s better to be safe than sorry for sure.”

This is exactly the philosophy of the law, as well. Law enforcement are trained to respond with full force to a call of an active shooting. This is one major concern of great-grandfather Jim Powers.

“It’s terrible, it’s a shame, it takes police away from other, more important calls,” he said.

To him, people seem to be using swatting as a “revenge tool or a nuisance tool,” but he recognizes that there is a larger threat.

This is supported by Canady. He compares swatting to a fake bomb threat. The difference, he says, is that with a bomb call, the threat can be properly vetted and determined to be false before it becomes a real issue. With an active shooter call, authorities will throw every available resource in to keep people safe.

“That’s increasing the likelihood of some type of accident having happening on the way,” he said.

Colorado Springs police tell 11 News that a swatting call can result, at minimum, in a False Reporting of an Emergency charge. This is a class four felony, which can result in a fine of up to $500,000 and up to six years in prison.