At least two schools in Chautauqua County reported being on the receiving end of “swatting” phone calls Thursday.
Jamestown Public Schools went into a lockout due to the message, which reportedly came through to the county’s 911 dispatch center in Mayville in the early afternoon. Silver Creek Central School said it secured all of its buildings and went into a shelter in place.
“As a result of a state-wide hoax being perpetuated across all counties in New York, hundreds of school districts have received false swatting calls,” the Jamestown Public Schools District said Thursday in a statement. “There has been no evidence that these calls are founded. Out of an abundance of caution, all JPS schools have been placed on a lockout this afternoon. During a lockout, no one can leave or enter buildings. Instruction will continue as normal. JPS will send more information as it becomes available.”
Silver Creek released the following around noon: “Evidently, these types of ‘prank calls’ are occurring in all four counties and across the state. Yesterday there were similar ‘prank’ calls placed in Pennsylvania. After learning about the call, our SRO, along with other law enforcement and administration cleared the buildings and grounds. We secured all entrances and went into a shelter and place. Once law enforcement confirmed that there was no credible threat, we lifted the shelter in place and resumed normal activity.”
According to Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone, the calls appeared to come from the same person who gave the same last name but different first names. In Silver Creek, he said, the district utilized its school resource officer — a sheriff’s deputy — and staff to determine that the call was a hoax.
“These calls were going on across the state and in several other states,” Quattrone said. “At this time we do not have any leads on who is making these false calls, however, due to the seriousness of the calls and the potential for harm we will continue to work with our partner law enforcement with a hope to identify, arrest and prosecute. This type of call can potentially put others at harm and we take this very seriously.”
In a statement, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office said it had been made aware of calls to schools and police departments within the county “referencing active shooter situations.” The department believes the same person was responsible.
“All calls of this nature are treated as real emergencies until law enforcement determines their credibility,” said the Sheriff’s Office, which noted that law enforcement agencies were investigating the calls. “All threats made to local area schools have been investigated and determined to be false reports.”