Charles City, Decorah, Mason City and Clear Lake schools were among over 30 Iowa schools targeted by “swatting” calls on Tuesday.
A “swatting call” refers to a false claim intended to trigger an immediate and widespread law enforcement deployment or emergency service response to a specific location. Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan K. Bayens said Tuesday’s false reports referenced an alleged active shooter scenario, with the first swatting call in Clinton County at 8 am.
Bayens says they had a better handle on the type of messages schools were receiving after the initial calls.
Bayens said Tuesday’s swatting calls impacted 31 communities including Charles City, Decorah, Mason City and Clear Lake as well as Cerro Gordo County, plus Waterloo and Monona in northeast Iowa.
Charles City Schools Superintendent Dr. Anne Lundquist issued a message to the school district noting, “Ours was one of the school districts that was affected. After receiving a “robocall” local law enforcement and administration conducted an investigation of our secondary buildings. Police do not believe there to be a credible threat to school safety at this time. We would like to continue to encourage our students and school community to report anything that could constitute a threat to school safety. As always, we work closely with local law enforcement to assist in these situations.”
In a department Facebook post, Charles City Police Chief Hugh Anderson said, “There was no danger to staff or children. Thank you to the incredible staff at both schools for their assistance.”
The “Swatting” call came into the Charles City High School and Middle School at about 9:30 am Tuesday morning. In addition to CCPD, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene.
Iowa DPS is working with the FBI to investigate and identify the caller. Bayens said the initial information leads investigators to believe the calls are similar in nature and likely originated from a single source.