DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — Officials said schools across Iowa have been the target of swatting calls Tuesday morning.
Commissioner Stephen Bayens of the Iowa Department of Public Safety confirmed information about the hoax calls, reporting potential shootings at schools at a previously scheduled news conference on school safety Tuesday.
Bayens said the calls first began in Clinton County in eastern Iowa around 8:30 a.m. and began making their way west across the state. He said DPS has received reports about the calls from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, North Liberty, Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Cerro Gordo County, Story County, and Polk County.
Bayens said, “This is commonly what we call swatting. It is a phone call that is a hoax by design. The design of it is to create confusion and chaos. It’s to suck up law enforcement resources, to try to draw a large law enforcement presence to a school even though there is no active threat. And by all accounts and for all intents and purposes It appears thus far that is what Iowa is experiencing today.”
Director of Communications & Public Affairs for Des Moines Public Schools, Phil Roeder, confirmed Roosevelt High School received one of the calls.
“There was a swatting call around 9:00 this from a non-local number to DMPD claiming that a student was shot at Roosevelt High School. DMPD and DMPS Public Safety responded and quickly realized it was not legitimate. At the same time we were seeing reports of similar fake calls being made about other high schools around the state. Classes at DMPS don’t resume until tomorrow (yesterday and today are professional development days) so there was no change in our operations.”Phil Roeder, DMPS
Bayens said the similarities that exist between all the calls such as the nature of the voice and other factors lead investigators to believe that the same person or entity is making all of the phone calls.
There don’t appear to be any active threats against schools in Iowa, according to Bayens.
An update on the swatting incidents is expected to be provided by the DPS later in the day.