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'Swatting' false shooting threats spread fear at Illinois schools

East High School in Rockford
Rockford Public Schools
East High School in Rockford

Several Illinois school districts received false school shooting threats on Wednesday. The incidents spread real terror and trauma for students, staff and families.

These false threats are known as “swatting” calls. High schools across Illinois including Chicago, Rockford, Freeport, Carbondale Mt. Vernon, Marion, Salem, Dixon, and Granite City were all “swatted” on Wednesday.

In Rockford, police responded to East High School around 8:30 a.m. -- just as students began SAT testing. Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said it was almost immediately evident the threat was a hoax, but they had to be absolutely sure.

“Officers proceeded to make entry into the building upon arrival, so there was no delay," she said. "All the kids remained in lockdown position in their classrooms. The building was not released until we had an opportunity to search every inch of the building.”

Redd says there was no shooter, and there were no injuries at the scene. Parents stood outside waiting for their kids to be released, and tearfully reunited as the lockdown ended.

There has been a rise in “swatting” situations. Last year, from June through November, FBI officials tracked over 350 school “swatting” incidents.

The string of hoax threats come just weeks after a shooter killed three kids and three adults at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.