Police: ‘Possible emergency situation’ at Burke High School confirmed to be hoax
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department says a “possible emergency situation” at Burke High School was confirmed to be a hoax.
Officers received a call from another location about a possible active shooter at the school around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning. Numerous officers responded, and the school was placed on lockdown.
City of Charleston Police Captain Jason Bruder says the whole situation – from the incoming call to officers leaving the scene was about 15 minutes. The same caller contacted dispatch a few times with the false claim about an active shooter.
He said 25 officers quickly got to Burke High school, and within a few minutes of being inside and sweeping the school, they confirmed there was no threat. Bruder says hoax calls are meant to create chaos and can end up being very dangerous.
“So we always take them seriously, but these calls are not something you should play around with,” Bruder said. “They’re something that is very dangerous. They require a lot of officers and police and fire resources to go to them, which means they are not able to save somebody else’s life at that time.”
People could face a misdemeanor charge for placing a fake 911 call that could carry up to six months jail time or a two hundred dollar fine. It can be difficult to charge people in cases like this where they have little information, according to Bruder.
Police are working with prosecutors and other agencies in this investigation.
Reports across the state
False reports of active shooters were also reported at schools in Beaufort, Richland, and Horry Counties and some schools in the Upstate.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division says they are aware of school threats across the state on Wednesday and are evaluating the credibility of the threats.
“While at this time the threats are believed to be a hoax, SLED encourages each jurisdiction to take any and all threats seriously,” the agency said in a statement.
SLED says they are working with local and federal law enforcement partners and asks anyone with information to contact their local law enforcement agency.
The FBI’s Columbia Division sent the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. Similar incidents have occurred recently across the country. 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.
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