MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - At least 21 schools across Vermont received threats of bombings and school shootings on Wednesday, and police say all of them were hoaxes. That’s about 10% of the schools in Vermont.
Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said the calls came in between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday, indicating there were 21 active shooter situations at Vermont schools. None were found to be legitimate. Morrison called this a hoax threat scam, often known as swatting. She said everyone is safe and no violence took place.
Right now, it appears no other states in the nation received these calls on Wednesday, though New Hampshire and Maine have dealt with similar situations in recent months.
Morrison said the calls may continue but she warned people not to dismiss them as a hoax in light of this, but to report them to the police so they can respond.
In Montpelier, police were called to the high school around 10 a.m. for a report of a shooting and two students hit. About 50 officers from multiple departments rushed to the school, which went into lockdown. Police swept the school and found no one injured and no weapons.
The Vermont Agency of Education says these appear to be hoax calls originating from Onvoy, LLC VOIP phone numbers that were changed to have 802 numbers. They say the calls are part of ongoing national hoaxes reporting school shootings and bomb threats, designed to provoke anxiety and fear in school communities.
We spoke with law enforcement and students at Montpelier High School.
“We train with active alerts and several other agencies to train for active shooter incidents. We train for this for years,” said Vermont State Police Sgt. Charles Winn.
“I think it’s definitely an unreal situation, but it’s a situation that so many people across this state and this country have to deal with all the time,” said Merrick Modun, an MHS senior.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, called the hoax calls an act of terrorism designed to create chaos and stoke fear that can be exploited. “These events are unnerving for everyone -- students, teachers, parents, and Vermonters. We can use this energy to come together because unity is the most powerful way to ensure terrorists do not achieve their goals.”
He thanked state police, local law enforcement and other emergency responders for acting quickly.
The governor said his office, other agencies and law enforcement will continue to monitor the situation closely. After all the facts are gathered, they will debrief on the situation in order to strengthen their future response.
The schools that got the hoax calls on Wednesday included:
Alburgh Community Education Center - Alburgh
Arlington Memorial High School - Arlington
Brattleboro High School - Brattleboro
Christ the King High School - Rutland
Colchester High School - Colchester
Enosburgh High School - Enosburgh
Essex High School - Essex
Fair Haven High School - Fair Haven
Grace Christian School - Bennington
Middlebury Union High School - Middlebury
Milton High School - Milton
Missisquoi Valley Union High - Highgate
Montpelier High School - Montpelier
Newport City Elementary School - Newport
North Country Union High School - Derby
North Country Union Jr. High School - Derby
Otter Valley Union High School - Brandon
Randolph Union High School - Randolph
Rice Memorial High School - South Burlington
St. Albans City Elementary School - St. Albans
United Christian Academy - Newport
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