This afternoon, Riverview High School went into lockdown because of a reported active shooter. Dozens of Sarasota County Sheriff's Office squad cars blocked Proctor Road and officers entered the campus to assess the threat. The sheriff's department was assisted by the Sarasota Police Department. Hours later, they left.
Even though it was determined to be a swatting call, the report of an active shooter inside Riverview High School had to be treated as legit by law enforcement. Here, officers were on scene clearing classrooms. Video from Jack Gee. pic.twitter.com/nEG0fX2M6K— ABC7 Sarasota (@mysuncoast) October 11, 2022
“No threat has been found, no one was injured and the school as been cleared,” the Sarasota Police Department Twitter account reported at 2:13 p.m. Officers went classroom to classroom to secure the campus.
This is not an isolated event. Across the state, more than half a dozen other schools were forced into lockdown in response to potential active shooter threats. In Broward County, the Pembroke Pines Police Department reported that “multiple officers are on scene at West Broward High School investigating a possible swatting call. There is no evidence of any safety concerns at the school at this time. The school is going into lockdown as a precautionary measure.”
The Pembroke Pines Police Department would state that this likely a part of a coordinated statewide “SWATing” hoax.
UPDATE: Our search of the school has been completed. No evidence of any crime was found.— Pembroke Pines PD (@PPinesPD) October 11, 2022
At this time, this incident appears to be a result of swatting. Our investigation into the initial call remains on-going. https://t.co/9V3gunG22B
What is “SWATing”? SWATing, or “swatting,” was born in the dark corners of the internet. Users on anonymous image board forums like 4chan would contact emergency service dispatches and make false reports of a serious law enforcement emergency—like a bomb threat, a hostage situation or an active shooter—on an innocent victim they wanted to prank. In response, law enforcement would send in their SWAT (special weapons and tactics) units to respond. The hoax costs taxpayers many tens of thousands of dollars and can even cost people their lives.
While it is unclear who called in today's threats, the timing of the hoaxes lines up with the final phase of the Parkland shooting trial. This is the trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who shot and killed 17 people and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Many of the schools that went into lockdown today were within an hour drive of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.