Schools targeted by active-shooter hoax Thursday

Green Bay police say the call was linked to an app and an email address associated with 911 hoaxes in the past
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 10:56 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:16 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Schools across Northeast Wisconsin, in the state and across the country, were subjected to hoax reports of active shooters Thursday, resulting in responses from police and fire agencies.

Green Bay police and fire departments and EMS and Brown County Sheriff’s Office responded to East High School after they received a call about an active shooter and 15 students shot at about 10 A.M. They found no evidence of a shooting or victims and confirmed it to be a hoax, also known as “swatting.”

“It’s part of our job, and that’s what we’re here for: To protect the citizens and kids and schools and staff. So it’s just a normal, our normal response that we would have for any active school shooter situation,” Lt. Keith Gering, Green Bay Police Department, told us.

Police tell us the phone call containing the threat is unusual in itself. ”It’s the first that we’ve had an actual phone call, something that was phoned in. We deal with threats of this nature time and time again, whether through social media, but an actual phone call to the dispatch center, this was the first one that we’ve dealt with,” Gering said.

Lt. Gering told us the number used to make the phone call was a text-to-phone app connected to an email address.

”No leads, so far, as to who is responsible. We do know that this phone call is associated to a TextNow phone number, which is associated with an email address that has been linked to 911 hoax calls in the past,” Gering said.

“I would like to credit all local police agencies for their quick response today to East High School. This call highlights the many benefits of multi-jurisdictional training for active threat incidents, such as we’ve been doing at Bay Beach Amusement Park in recent months,” said Chief Chris Davis, Green Bay Police Department.

Action 2 News confirmed five separate school threats made in the area and several in southeast Wisconsin:

  • Green Bay East High School
  • Roncalli High School in Manitowoc
  • Horace Mann High School in North Fond du Lac
  • South Park Middle School in Oshkosh
  • Sheboygan High School
  • Bradford High School in Kenosha

According to reports, there were 9 more in the Milwaukee area, as well. A student at Rufus King High School recorded the police response. “All these police, y’all... Oh, look at that big --- gun.”

The schools called a Code Red. Students were ordered to stay in their classrooms and stay silent due to a possible active shooter loose in their school.

“We had another Code Red before, like two weeks, and that was really long,” senior Zeke Penvose said. “I didn’t know what this one was about, so I expected to be there for a while.”

In Manitowoc, police received a 911 call reporting an active shooter at Roncalli High School. Officers determined there was no threat to the school.

At about 10:30 A.M., Oshkosh Police were called to South Park Middle School for the report of a “disturbance involving a weapon.” Police determined this to be a swatting incident.

The hoaxes have been reported across the country. The FBI is investigating.

“The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

Back at Rufus King, Zeke and his friends weren’t relieved after hearing it was a hoax.

“I was angry. I was ready to fight. I was like, what idiot did this? And when I found out that an elementary school was called, that made me mad! The fact that they did it in the first place made me mad, but an elementary school? Why are you making little kids go through this?” Zeke said.

At least 5 schools in Northeast Wisconsin were part of a nationwide series of "swatting" calls
Green Bay was one of many schools across the country targeted by the 911 hoax