Hoax shooting calls across South Carolina upend school day
Columbia, S.C. (AP) — A wave of hoax emergency calls about school shootings across South Carolina sent hundreds of police officers into schools on Wednesday as scared students hid behind locked classroom doors.
The calls affected more than a dozen districts from Charleston to Greenville. At least one 911 caller faked their caller ID information to make it seem like the call came from inside Blythewood High School, said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Lott said this information made the threat so real that he had no choice but to send waves of deputies, and to ask students and teachers to follow safety procedures.
“We had to respond the way we did,” Lott said.
Other fake calls came into Burke High School in Charleston, Beaufort High School and at least four schools in Horry County on Wednesday morning. Another wave of calls about non-existent shooters poured in throughout the day in places like Newberry, Greenville, Chester, Lancaster, Greenwood and other locations around the state, officials said.
No arrests were made, but the FBI and State Law Enforcement Division are investigating.
Parents rushed to the schools and the response disrupted the entire school day. Blythewood students were released early to parents, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Everyone from the governor to law enforcement demanded serious punishment for causing such emotional harm and taking away a day of learning.
“They came to school today and it’s supposed to be a place where joy is supposed to reside. They came to school today with the intentions of bettering themselves academically and socially and emotionally and then we have to deal with something like this,” Richland 2 School District Superintendent Baron Davis said.
Patrick Kelly, director of government affairs for the Palmetto State Teachers Association, said that the calls “were very much an act of violence.” While Kelly said no single policy will eliminate these types of threats, he called on political candidates to share their plans to improve school safety.
“The calls that shut down our schools today were very much an act of violence, and this fact makes the need for leadership and proactive policy action more urgent now than ever,” Kelly said in a statement.