Police, Wausau School District say incident at Wausau East was ‘swatting’
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Police Department and Wausau School District say the report of a shooting Wednesday morning at Wausau East High School was a hoax. According to Wausau Police, a call came into dispatch around 9:30 a.m. that multiple people had been shot in the bathroom of the school. Police officers and first responders immediately responded and determined the report to be false.
The practice of reporting false incidents requiring police response is known as swatting. Swatting is a prank that involves deceiving a law enforcement agency, causing a large police response.
“The information that we received, we try to obviously verify that independently. So our dispatchers were working on a number of angles while our officers responded. And then us showing up and seeing that there were indeed people there, even though it was spring break, that played into how we responded to make sure that nobody was injured inside,” said Luitenant John Phillips, of the Wausau Police Department.
According to a joint news release, an incident command team was established outside the building with perimeter security, while teams of officers proceeded to clear the other interior areas of the building. Ultimately no threats were found on-site. Investigators said the caller had ended the call with dispatch, and dispatch was unable to re-establish contact. Additional details learned about the phone number source further indicated the call was a “swatting” event.
The Wausau School District sent this email to parents following the incident.
The letter reads:
Dear Wausau School District Community:
We are reaching out to you to make you aware of an incident that happened this morning at Wausau East High School. According to Wausau Police, a call came into dispatch that multiple people had been shot in the bathroom of the school. Police officers and EMS immediately responded and determined the report to be false.
Since it’s Spring Break, the only students and staff in the building were athletes and coaches practicing, along with custodians.
The school was placed on lockdown out of an abundance of caution. After a search of the building, police determined there was no threat and that this was a case of ‘swatting.’ That means someone called into dispatch with a false report.
Everyone is safe.
We also want you to know that we take threats seriously and we will work closely with police to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
Wausau School District Administration
Our sister stations in Eau Claire and Duluth are reporting similar swatting incidents in Superior, Spooner, Rice Lake and Chippewa Falls Wednesday.
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