Lincoln Middle School threat could be part of "swatting" trend

Published: May. 23, 2016 at 8:18 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Schools across the country receive bomb threats including one Rockford middle school as a part of what many believe is a growing trend.

Similar incidents have been reported at schools across the country including Clinton-Rossette Middle School in DeKalb and Lincoln Middle School in Rockford, and authorities say they all stem from a growing trend called "swatting."

Swatting refers to when a person deceives an emergency service by alleging a false threat, in this case, at a school to trigger a large police response like a swat team.

Authorities across the U.S. say hoaxers playing online video games are using high tech identity disguising tools to anonymously threaten schools online or in phone messages.

On Monday, Lincoln received a message just like that, however, District 205 and law enforcement did not see a lock-down as necessary.

They say Interim Principal Greg Midgett notified their security team and Rockford Police, and the director of security services was aware of the hoax for several months, anticipating something like this to happen.

"Our security team worked with Rockford Police to properly vet the threat, although at no point did it seem credible," said District 205 in a statement. "As you know, safety and security is the district's top priority, and administrators investigated the threat and thoroughly searched the building. Nothing was found."

An RPS 205 spokesperson says the school day was not interrupted and Lincoln was not put on lock-down.

DENVER (AP) -- Threats made against schools across the country that led to evacuations on Monday could be the latest example of so-called "swatting" against schools.

In recent months, hoaxers playing online games have allegedly used proxy servers and other high-tech identity-disguising tools to anonymously threaten schools online or in phone messages with electronic voices to trigger a huge police response, including SWAT teams

The latest threats led to the evacuation of schools in Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Media outlets in the United Kingdom also reported evacuations. Some officials described Monday's threats as automated, and the ones made in Colorado and Minnesota were received just before noon local time.

Recent previous threats made against multiple districts including Los Angeles and New York City have turned out to be hoaxes.

Around 12:00 p.m. Monday, police were contacted by school officials regarding a bomb threat at Clinton-Rosette Middle School in DeKalb. The school was evacuated and students were relocated. Police say with help from the Kane County Sheriff's Department and their bomb detection dogs, nothing suspicious was found during a search of the school. Dekalb Police Chief Gene Lowery tells 23 News he is aware of the national scope of the calls, but would not comment on the bomb scare he is investigating in his town.