FBI involved in false shooting report investigation at Beaufort High, other S.C. schools

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:25 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:57 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Law enforcement responded to a false shots-fired call at Beaufort High School on Wednesday.

The FBI is now investigating the false claim in Beaufort as well as several other false claims across South Carolina.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort Police Department and other emergency agencies responded to Beaufort High on Wednesday morning. The school was cleared just after 11 a.m. after first responders found no victims and no shooter.

Similar fake shooting calls were reported at at least 12 other schools across the state. No shooters or victims have been found at any school.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said some of the hoax calls could be coming from other countries. The South Carolina Attorney General tweeted about the false reports:

The Beaufort Police Department received the active shooter call just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The chief of police says officers were inside the school within three minutes and at one time, there were over 40 officers inside Beaufort High.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner was asked how they can deter this kind of thing from happening moving forward.

“We identify those that are responsible, and we put them in prison and we’ll remove their technology access,” he said.

Beaufort County Sheriff's Office - Oct. 5

#WATCH: The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is holding a news conference to provide an update on today's shots fired call at Beaufort High School. >>> https://bit.ly/3SGRAwy

Posted by WTOC-TV on Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Beaufort Police Department chief was asked how communication with parents went throughout the morning.

“Being a parent myself, the information wasn’t out soon enough, but I mean we couldn’t do it any quicker and it’s not a good spot for a parent to be in to be standing there waiting for information,” Chief Dale McDorman said.

Chief McDorman says they wanted to get the facts out to parents and believes they did that to the best of their ability.

It was certainly a roller coaster morning for many parents, as some of them didn’t get reunited with their children until around 2:50 p.m.

“He’s alright we just got him. It was a long wait, but we thank God that everything worked out for the best,” said Benjamin Simmons, a parent of an 11th grader.

“Arriving here some people were freaking out and it’s like, you can’t do anything. We have to stand here on the sidelines, let’s law enforcement do their job,” said Frank Chet, a parent of a 9th grader.

“My method is stay calm, let’s get the facts. There’s really, by the time I get there, nothing I’m going to be able to do so you just stay calm and hope for the very best,” said Howard Graham, a parent of a 12th grader.

Some parents commended law enforcement on the organization of the reunification process and others were critical of how long it took for parents to be notified that this was all happening.

The superintendent was asked how long it took to notify parents and he didn’t have a specific timeline available.

Although the situation Wednesday was a hoax, students were impacted.

A student described what happened as news came over the intercom of an active shooter we now know didn’t exist.

“We are in lockdown, this is not a drill and he sounded like he was scared so I said, ‘Oh my God,” 1th grader Andrew Legree said.

A mix of reactions from students after they came out of the building.

“The cops did a really good job, I felt very safe,” 11th grader Grant Schwerin said.

“I was crying, I was just so scared and then they told us we were good, so I was like phew,” 9th grader Angel Legree said.

“It wasn’t that scary. I couldn’t really hear much but the cops did come in our room and pat us down and everything,” 12th grader Hunter Kerney said.

Those students were in the middle of everything from weightlifting to math class when their whole day turned on its head. WTOC is told there was over 1,000 students there Wednesday and the superintendent says there will be mental health resources made available for them.