KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Schools in East Tennessee and across the state were targeted by false active shooter calls on Wednesday, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Multiple calls were received at East Tennessee schools, causing confusion and disrupting the school day for some.
The FBI said late Wednesday that they are “aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. “
FBI spokesman Darrell Debusk said there is no information to indicate a specific and credible threat.
“We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately,” Debusk said.
The FBI is working with local, state federal law enforcement partners, he said.
The TBI announced that they are working with “state and federal partners to determine the source of several hoax calls” to local law enforcement agencies reporting an active shooter at high schools across the state.
The statement from TBI added that none of the reports have proven credible and there is no known immediate threat to public safety at this time. Schools in East Tennessee were among those targeted by the apparent hoax.
Jefferson County High School was placed in a hard lockdown on Wednesday, May 3, following a “false call” according to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Coffey. He told WATE that the lockdown began after a call came into the 911 center. He added that the call is believed to have come from out of state.
The building has been cleared and all students and staff are safe according to the Jefferson County EMA. The investigation into the call is ongoing.
“Sad day when people decide to disrupt school and emergency response personnel by calling in a false report. Jefferson County EMS and surrounding responding agencies did an excellent job responding and reported that Jefferson County High School staff did an excellent job locking down the building and protecting students.”Statement from Jefferson County Schools on False Call
Jefferson County Schools shared on Facebook that the false call caused the middle school track conference at the high school to be canceled. In addition, Advanced Placement testing was in progress at the high school, and sessions were continued for those who chose to do so. The school has coordinated with AP College Board for make-up opportunities.
At 10:30 a.m., Knoxville Police officers responded to a shooting report at Central High School. The school’s SRO reported that there was “no known emergency” at the school. KPD shared that the original 911 call was a fake call that originated out of state.
The investigation into the call is also still ongoing. KPD added that there are no known threats to Central High.
The Greeneville Police Department also shared that they are aware of 911 calls stating there is an active shooter at Greeneville Middle and High School. GPD believes the calls to be fake and similar to the calls received by others in the state.
WJHL reported that Science Hill High School in Johnson City and Tennessee High School in Bristol were also targeted.
Coffey added that he knew of other false calls to Hamblen, Hamilton and Montgomery counties. The Hamblen County Sheriff shared that the calls were computer-generated. The false threat in Hamblen County was at Morristown West High School.
“Morristown West received a false 911 call this morning. I am proud of the way our Team and local law enforcement responded taking the alleged threat seriously until the report was proven false.
School safety is extremely important and there is no place for hoaxes or false alarms. We will fully support law enforcement efforts to identify and hold accountable the individual or individuals responsible for these false reports.”Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., Hamlben County Superintendent