Schools Across Ohio Targeted by Hoax Reports of Active Shooters

False reports of active shooters in nine Ohio high schools led administrators to initiate temporary lockdowns on Wednesday.

A growing trend, putting a strain on resources across the state, prompted large police responses at schools in Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Lima, Findlay, Ashtabula, and Summit County.

A recurring theme presented itself in the hoax calls at Toledo’s Start High School and Withrow University High School in Cincinnati. Both 911 callers identified themselves as Mike Green, a supposed teacher at the school, and gave the same story that six students were shot and injured in Room 100. False threats were also made against Dater and Western Hills High Schools in Cincinnati but the district did not release further information.

Law enforcement investigated other unfounded shooter hoaxes at James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland, Lima Temple Christian School, Liberty-Benton High School in Findlay, Edgewood Senior High School in Ashtabula, and Coventry High School in Summit County.
Law enforcement is beginning investigations on this latest round of swatting, or false reports of active shooters throughout the state.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released the following statement regarding the incidents:

“The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

State Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) and State Representative Kevin Miller (R-Newark) both have pieces of legislation under consideration to increase the penalties for swatting.

Senate Bill (SB) 292 along with companion legislation House Bill (HB) 462 would make it a third-degree felony for an individual to participate in swatting. If injury or death occurred as a result of the false report, the incident would escalate to a first-degree felony. Repercussions of engaging in such activities could also make the individual liable for restitution costs and the costs that occurred from the emergency responders.

Current Ohio law against swatting states that false reports to emergency teams are considered a first-degree misdemeanor unless that threat involves a bomb.

“If we pass it, will we prevent every one of them? No, but the schools and everyone else can use it as a deterrent. You are going to go to jail and will potentially endure the costs if you do this,” Brenner said.

Brenner told The Ohio Star that he believes lawmakers can pass the bill before the end of the year and expects the bill will obtain bipartisan support.

SB 292 is currently under review by the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill had its third committee hearing on Tuesday. The committee plans to discuss the bill in a private caucus on November 22nd. After more hearings, the committee would have to vote to move the bill to the house floor.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

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