MANDATA — State police said the individuals responsible for Friday’s “swatting” incident at Line Mountain Middle/High School have been identified.
Police did not provide names or addresses, but said those involved “have no known connection to the school district or this area.”
Tuesday afternoon’s update from Trooper Richard L. Blair said state police worked with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to identify those responsible.
The investigation is not complete, but no further information will be released at this time, Blair said.
“There is no danger to the public due to this incident,” he said.
The school district is scheduled to reopen today after being closed Monday because of the investigation and Tuesday because of poor weather.
Dozens of police and other first responders descended upon the rural middle/high school Friday afternoon after what was first reported as an “active shooter” incident eventually was found to be a case of a phone hoax about a shooting threat.
Superintendent Dave Campbell’s statement on the district’s website Monday afternoon said the state police investigation had found “with 100 percent certainty the call first received by the state police and subsequently received at the high school just after 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, was a computer-generated call.”
He said the decision to close Monday was because, “where the investigation was at the time, there was no guarantee an additional swatting call would not occur on Monday.”
While state police reported Friday, the incident was ongoing, that the call originated in Indiana, Campbell said later that day that Indiana may have been randomly selected as a dupe.
Many swatting cases originate with online video gaming, where one player who knows the location of an opponent will call in an emergency to that address and then, in some cases, be able to watch through the video connection as authorities storm the building. The term “swatting” is derived from the fact that SWAT (special weapons and tactics) units often respond to such calls.
One notable case from late 2017 involves an innocent man in Wichita, Kansas, being shot dead by police after authorities arrived at his home believing someone there had killed his father and had two family members held hostage. The call had originated in California, where prosecutors say Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill got in an argument while playing an online video game, and Viner enlisted Tyler Barriss to “swat” Gaskill. Gaskill, egging them on, provided a false address for his home, leading police to the Wichita man’s home.
Information from a 911.gov webinar presented in 2015 said, from the prospective of a 911 center, swatting is the “deliberate reporting of a serious event, normally police related, intended to cause embarrassment or discomfort to someone.”
While false alarms are nothing new, it’s different today because of “technology, severity and climate and culture,” 911.gov reports.
Swatting is related to the issue of “spoofing,” which involves people using a program to alter their identity on caller identification systems.