FBI assisting with swatting investigation at North HS, other districts in the region

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The call of an active shooter drew a heavy police presence to Wichita North High School Thursday afternoon. What Wichita police believe may have been a swatting call (hoax) led to some scary moments for students, staff, parents and first responders.

Students expressed confusion as this incident unfolded, learning about it from the police officers that were going from classroom to classroom or from parents reaching out to their kids. Others searched online for details.

“A cop comes by and tells us to turn all of our lights out and just hide basically because there’s something going on in the school but nobody’s actually telling us what’s going on. So, we’re all just making these assumptions and just scared,” said Kadence Westly, a student at North High School.

Wichita police said a call of an active shooting at North High School came into dispatch around 2 p.m. Officers quickly surrounded the building. The school resource officer was already inside searching the building.

“And there was a whole bunch of cops at first and then the cop came into our classroom and was like ‘lock the door’ and everything. We turned off the lights and we’re all in the back room because there’s like three rooms connected and we’re all hiding back there to make sure we’re safe in that situation,” said another student, Elle Warren.

The district said no lockdown was officially issued by the school. Police said they found no signs of a threat or criminal activity. They believe the incident was a case of swatting and are now working to find the origins of that call.

“With any kind of call like this where there’s the possibility of people actively being killed, we respond as fast as we can. Do our best. We have been through training for this kind of incident and we acted accordingly,” said Lt. Dale Mattern with the Wichita Police Department.

Eyewitness News learned school districts in Topeka, Oklahoma City and St. Louis also received false calls on Thursday. Part of the investigation is to determine whether they are linked.

The FBI issued the following in relation to the investigation: “The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

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