BEAUREGARD PARISH, La. — Many schools across Louisiana became victims of ‘swatting’ incidents Thursday, prompting massive emergency response from law enforcement agencies who feared active shooter situations.
Swatting is a crime in which someone calls in a fake report of a mass casualty or active shooter incident, with the intent of calling in a massive police response.
Louisiana State Police tells Eyewitness News that “several” schools received the calls Thursday, but the agency does not currently have a total number affected.
Sheriff’s deputies in Beauregard Parish, in West Central Louisiana, say a robocall reported a mass casualty event at every school in the parish.
The sheriff’s office said it responded as if there was an active shooter at every school, including four in DeRidder. Students went into active shooter mode as deputies secured the buildings.
Deputy Shannon Burgess said BPSO and other local law enforcement agencies had practice active shooter drills just a few weeks ago.
Swatting not only wastes resources, but can be traumatizing for the victim of the harassment and has ended in death. A man in Tennessee died by heart attack in 2020 when police swarmed his home after someone called in a fake homicide and bomb threat at his address.
Wednesday, 14 schools in Minnesota became victims of swatting, triggering massive police responses all over the state. Similar incidents have been reported in Colorado, Arkansas, California, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia since the beginning of the 2022 school year.
Swatting was made a crime in Louisiana in 2018. It’s punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500. If the emergency response ends in injury or death, the maximum penalty is increased to ten years in prison.
Louisiana State Police said it is working with local agencies to identify the caller or callers.