Olentangy involved in ‘swatting’ hoax


Olentangy High School was one of several victims in a series of active shooter “swatting” hoaxes to be phoned in Tuesday both in the state and across the country.

The act of swatting involves making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to force the dispatch of a large response force to a particular address. At 12:44 p.m. Tuesday, a call came into a 911 administrative line with reports of an active shooter on the loose in the high school, resulting in a full lockdown situation in the building.

In the call, a male with a thick accent can be heard saying a student was shot in the bathroom before then saying four students had been shot as he evaded the shooter. The call triggered the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office’s (DCSO) active shooter response training, which led to a response from the DCSO that put deputies on site “within minutes,” according to Tracy Whited, director of public relations with the sheriff’s office. There was also a school resource officer on site as well.

“It’s a big building, multi-level, and we needed to find the shooter,” Whited said of the initial response. “We were struggling to get any kind of confirmation from people at the school because, obviously, there was no shooting and there was no one with a gun. And that was while we were still trying to get information because one of the first pieces of information we try to get is where is it coming from … Part of the active intruder design is instead of hiding in a room, we can clear some of the building if the person is on the first floor or whatever. But without having that information, it was like a lockdown situation.”

Whited said law enforcement began getting word shortly after the response of a similar call at Columbus East High School that morning, as well as other calls elsewhere, leading them to believe the call was part of a hoax. However, the building was still cleared to ensure everyone’s safety, and Whited said the entire event was over in less than 90 minutes.

“That’s what we have to do in law enforcement. We have to be prepared for every situation, and we have to take them seriously because the one time we don’t, we don’t have the luxury of being complacent.”

Whited said the DCSO’s criminal intel analysts and detectives have active leads on the caller’s identity, while the state’s Homeland Security agency is also investigating the event.

In a Tweet, Sheriff Russell Martin called the “serious and disturbing” prank “unfortunate” but expressed his gratitude for the partnership between the district and his office

Martin added, “Now, we investigate the call for the sake of justice. It’s serious business when the foolish create panic in our communities with false calls of violence in our schools. Thousands are impacted and the response can be costly. We will work vigilantly with all our partners in an effort to bring the criminals to justice.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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