CHEYENNE — Cheyenne Police Department confirmed Monday morning there was no threat to public safety following an active shooter report at South High School.
Officials in Casper, Gillette, Rock Springs, Torrington, Buffalo, Sheridan, Cody, Star Valley, Cokeville, Newcastle, Rawlins and Crook County received similar reports related to schools in their communities, which also proved to be unsubstantiated, according to WTE and Casper Star-Tribune reporting.
CPD officers arrived at South five minutes after a 911 call was made at approximately 8:10 a.m. The caller reported there was an active shooter in the first-floor bathroom of the building, and police were supported in clearing the building by deputies from the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office.
The school was immediately placed into lockdown, as was Johnson Junior High School due to its proximity. Goins Elementary, Rossman Elementary and Triumph High School in Laramie County School District 1’s South triad were also placed on secure perimeter protocol for the safety of the students and staff, according to updates from the district.
Law enforcement partners moved quickly, and South High School was cleared by 9:05 a.m.
“They cleared the location and determined that there was no threat to public safety, and no injuries were reported, either,” said CPD Public Information Officer Alex Farkas. “It seems like this call was part of a trend going around the nation. Schools in Casper have been affected, (as well as) Rock Springs, and it does appear to be unsubstantiated.”
Farkas said the police department takes all threats seriously, however, and anytime a call of this nature comes through, they treat it as if it’s real.
There will also be an increased police presence at the school this week out of an abundance of caution.
“We work closely with our partners at the school district,” she added. “We train routinely for this, and we were prepared today.”
Natrona County School District 1, Sweetwater County School District 1 and Crook County School District 1 sent out updates Monday morning after schools in their district went into lockdown, as well.
A similar 911 call was received by the Casper Public Safety Communications Center at 8:23 a.m. with a report of an active shooter at Natrona County High School, according to a news release. The school went into lockdown at 8:25 a.m., and law enforcement responded to the school, while students and staff remained in their classrooms with the doors locked until the campus was cleared at 8:55 a.m.
“From the onset, there appeared to be indications that the originating report was unfounded and that the report was consistent with similar hoax situations that have been occurring nationwide,” according to a statement from NCSD. “Despite these indications, the Casper Police Department and local law enforcement are committed to their response to reports of school safety concerns with urgency and seriousness. For this reason, law enforcement did not identify a safety concern to other school campuses.”
The Rock Springs Police Department sent out a press release that an active shooter call was placed at 8:30 a.m. for Rock Springs High School. Officers responded immediately, and all SWCSD1 schools were released from a secure hold by 9:55 a.m.
There was no confirmation the threat was credible there, either.
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it was one of the several Wyoming agencies to receive a “swatting” call reporting an active shooter for schools in Crook County School District 1. There was no active shooter activity at any of the schools, but some were under lockdown as a precaution until they were declared hoax calls.
“These ‘swatting’ calls have been reported nationwide, and several Wyoming agencies received the same calls this morning,” the Crook County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Swatting is a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into sending a police or emergency service response team to another person’s, business or school address.”
The same was true in Torrington, where the Telegram reported that Goshen County School District 1 received a ‘swatting call’ for Torrington High School at 9:27 a.m. "After a thorough search, the Torrington Police Department deemed that there was no current threat, and the school was removed from the 'hold' status at 9:48 a.m., the newspaper reported.
Gov. Mark Gordon’s office has been monitoring the series of false active shooter reports at multiple Wyoming schools and thanked members of local law enforcement and school district personnel for their quick and professional response to the reports.
“While we are aware that these situations have been occurring throughout the U.S., and often initiated from outside of the U.S., every false threat must be taken seriously to protect the safety of our children and teachers,” Gordon said in a statement. “These incidents are traumatic for students and staff and endanger entire communities by utilizing law enforcement resources that may be needed elsewhere.”
LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo sent out a letter to the community once the law enforcement activity in the South triad was cleared out. She said she has been following the local, regional and national trends they are seeing related to school incidents around Colorado, and now Wyoming, over the past month.
According to the Associated Press, threats and false reports “have been pouring into schools and colleges across the country for months, raising concerns among law enforcement and elected leaders.” These calls can be computer-generated or individuals using voice-over-internet technology to conceal their identity.
Federal Bureau of Investigation officials spoke to this trend and said they believe they’re coming from outside the country. False threats have been identified to nearly 250 colleges, 100 high schools and multiple junior high schools since last year.
South High School became one of many to have been impacted Monday morning.
“Ensuring the safety of our school environments is paramount, and we will not tolerate any behaviors both on or off district property that impact the health and security of our schools and community,” Crespo wrote in her letter. “False reporting places our entire community in danger.”
LCSD1’s commitment to provide the highest level of safety and security in the schools means they continue to invest in cameras, safe vestibules and emergency notification systems such as Alertus, Crespo said.
The superintendent told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle there was a debrief with law enforcement, building administrators and the security team to ensure protocols were followed and worked well. They will meet with students and counselors as they need support, increase police patrols and continue to communicate with the community on the issue.
Parents also have the “right and opportunity to take their children home.” She said she understands there are families who feel more comfortable having them out of school after an incident such as this.
Crespo said school district officials appreciate everyone who continues to report concerns and share information, as well as the continued partnership with law enforcement.
“It is important to contact your school or local law enforcement agency when you have concerns, and students and families are encouraged to continue to use Safe2Tell, 844-996-7233 (844-WYO-SAFE) to share anonymous or confidential information,” she wrote.