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Fake shooting threat lockdowns Okemos High School, cancels classes Tuesday, Wednesday

One of multiple schools across the state that experienced fake threats of violence Tuesday
Posted at 10:15 AM, Feb 07, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A large police presence was at Okemos High School Tuesday morning after reports of an active shooter around 9 a.m. Police have determined that there was no active shooter at the school.

The Meridian Township Police Department and Meridian Township Fire Department responded to the high school and said everyone was safe and the building was secured.

The district is releasing students at the high school early. Okemos Public Schools Superintendent John Hood later announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that classes will be cancelled in the district for Wednesday, but the school building will be open for students to come get their stuff that they left behind. Mental health specialists will also be available for counseling.

This comes after a threat was also made at Jackson High School Tuesday morning that was later unfounded.

"This was a hoax call made by an unknown Google Number," Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Beal said in a Facebook post about the threat. "We understand that this phone call has been sent to other schools across Michigan this morning."

Michigan State Police posted on social media about the incident reminding people that it is a crime to make a false threat against a school.

Michigan State Police also confirmed that they received "a number of false threats against schools across the state," and they are investigating each incident with help from the FBI.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reissued guidance later Tuesday morning highlighting the seriousness of swatting, which is defined as a prank call made to get law enforcement to a location. Nessel confirmed that schools in Detroit, Jackson, Ann Arbor and Okemos were victims of a swatting.

We created a map to showcase all of the schools that were affected by swatting calls Tuesday.

School swatting map

“Threats of violence in our schools disrupt the classroom, tax our local law enforcement agencies and harm our students’ sense of safety,” said Nessel in a news release. “Whether these are real threats made by those intent on doing harm or pranks made by kids trying to get a day off, they are real crimes with real consequences. It’s critical that adults and students alike understand the seriousness of these threats and the criminal charges they could face.”

Nessel also said that people involved in swatting attempts could face charges of communicating a threat of terrorism, calling in a bomb threat, malicious use of a telecommunications device, threatening violence against school employee or student and false report of a crime.

Ingham County Prosecutor John J. Dewane responded to the false threat saying that it affected the entire community.

"These reports are terrifying to teachers, parents, students, community members, law enforcement and anyone who has a loved one inside an education building," Dewane said. "Any threat of violence against our schools, even when deemed to be false, should be addressed to the fullest extent of the law. This was no mere hoax or victimless prank. For many students and their families, the terror was all too real."

Dewane went on the commend the swift response from law enforcement and school personnel and said his office takes cases like this one very seriously and "will hold offenders accountable."

"I believe more than one individual knows the details behind what took place today. I hope that anyone with knowledge will come forward immediately. I trust that law enforcement will and should conduct a full-scale investigation," he said. "Making threats of violence against a school has very serious consequences whether a person is joking or not. Students could face discipline within the school district to include expulsion or suspension. Likewise, individuals could face criminal prosecution."

U.S. District 7 Rep. Elissa Slotkin responded to the incident saying she heard about the threats ahead of a committee hearing from one of her staffers. She posted a thread on Twitter about her feelings on the incident and talked about wanting to pass gun safety legislation.

"I’m deeply relieved everyone at Okemos High School is safe, and so proud of the first responders who didn’t hesitate & jumped into action," she said in the thread. "[Ingham County] Sheriff [Scott] Wriggelsworth was one of the very first in the building. But I refuse to believe that we have to accept this as our reality."

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