Students immediately headed for the nearest enclosed space, in many cases leaving backpacks, lunches, and phones outside, where they would wait for over half an hour until the campus was searched and cleared.
The call, which was later determined to be a false report, follows a larger, more significant recent trend impacting high schools across the United States. Beginning in late August, hoax reports to law enforcement about bombs, shootings, and other threats to school campuses have peaked in popularity, throwing dozens of schools into temporary lockdown and panic. This dangerous prank, often referred to as swatting, has hit schools in Southern California particularly hard.
In another case of a shooting hoax, Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana received reports of an armed person on campus on October 14. A sweep of the classrooms found no threat of danger.
A month prior, Hollywood High School was put under lockdown for an hour while police searched for a shooting threat. In the end, the reported classroom didn’t exist, and neither did the gun on campus. Before lunch, class was back to normal.
Orange County, New Jersey and South Carolina have also been slammed with swatting calls in recent months. In the last three weeks of September, more than 90 hoax calls were reported across 16 states, according to WIRED. Law enforcement has connected 32 of the 90 calls and determined them to stem from one perpetrator, though tracking the origin of the number has not yet netted the person or group responsible for the swatting calls.
All the faux reports have yielded the same outcome: lockdowns, law enforcement sweeping the campus, and the ultimate return to a normal school day. No students or teachers have been wounded or killed.
As of early November, the swatting spree is still going strong, and the pleas from students, parents and administrators for the pranksters responsible for such calls to stop the damaging cycle continue to grow louder.