Authorities: ‘Challenging but not impossible’ to trace the perpetrators of the crushing
Nebraska joined a growing list of states on Thursday that have become victims of swatting, which is when hoax calls — often centered around threats of school shootings — are made to EMS centers with the goal of soliciting a large attendance. of law enforcement in one place.
Col. John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that at least 10 schools across Nebraska were swatted on Thursday, including Omaha, Valentine, Columbus, Kearney, Gering and Hastings.
Bolduc said there were similarities between the calls Nebraska schools received and other schools across the country. The perpetrators use VOIP technology to disguise their identity and location, as well as use a foreign accent, mispronounce the names of schools or cities, and pretend to be hiding inside the school.
“Think if your child was in that school, and it was locked down, and there were law enforcement officers responding,” Bolduc said. “The fear and trauma resulting from this criminal action is almost incomprehensible.”
The state patrol had begun conducting a thorough investigation, Bolduc said, and planned to work with local law enforcement, 911s and schools to hold the person or individuals responsible.
Lt. Monty Lovelace, director of the patrol’s Nebraska Information Analysis Center, said Thursday’s swatting calls coincided with a trend that had been going on for several months across the country. Other affected states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas and Vermont.
Earlier this week, NIAC notified law enforcement agencies and schools across the state of swatting in other states. Lovelace said neighboring states have recently faced widespread swatting, prompting the warning from NIAC.
There can be a variety of reasons for swatting, said Dr. Mario Scalora, director of the University of Nebraska’s Center for Public Policy. Some people may consider themselves smart or enjoy seeing things being interrupted. Perpetrators may also simply want to upset people and find satisfaction in upsetting students, parents and teachers.
Each school affected Thursday responded based on the unique preparations they had made, Bolduc said. Law enforcement officers discovered the calls were hoaxes after arriving at each school and discovering the absence of chaos, he said, which is usually present during active shooter situations.
Bolduc said swatting was a misuse of emergency services and a waste of resources, but, he said, the calls will allow the patrol to exercise the systems that have been put in place to make sure officers are doing the right things. in case of a real active shooter situation.
Tracing the fake calls would be difficult, Bolduc said, but the state patrol has systems and access to resources “to get to the bottom of this.” It would be difficult but not impossible to identify the culprits, he said.
Gov. Jim Pillen told the news conference that what happened on Thursday was “100 percent unacceptable behavior.” An extraordinary amount of work lies ahead of us to figure out who is responsible and hold them accountable, he said.
The governor praised state and local law enforcement agencies and schools for their responses in times of “incredible fear and anxiety.”
Pillen said it was important to ensure that Nebraska schools are safer tomorrow than they are today and that “everyone has a role.”
Bolduc said that while Thursday’s incidents were undoubtedly disruptive, students are safe and learning has resumed.
Officials encouraged anyone with information about Thursday’s swatting to call NIAC at 888-580-6422 or submit an online tip to the NIAC Suspicious Activity Report website:
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