This time the criminal–it is a first-degree misdemeanor to call in a false threat–claimed he had numerous bombs planted around Matanzas High School, that he had guns trained on teachers, and that he was going to blow up the place.
But the caller was also all over the place, unable to identify much about the school, contradicting himself and sounding more like someone clumsily “swatting” the school–intentionally calling in the false report of a threat, just to provoke a police response.
It looked like a repeat of the phoned-in threat to Matanzas on Jan. 25, itself similar to a threat phoned in at the end of November.
Each time, the call came in from untraceable internet networks. Each time authorities responded, from within and outside the school, as they did this time, though classes were not interrupted today, there was no lock-down, no students were moved or evacuated. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office dispatched extra security and conducted a search of the school, finding nothing.
The threat was called in around 10 a.m. It was initially cleared at 11:10 a.m., according to a district spokesperson. The caller appeared to have called twice this morning, from the same phone number. But there was a third call after the initial threats were cleared, and again deputies conducted a further search.
“These prank phone calls are extremely frustrating to our administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students,” a district statement read. “Even if a threat is deemed ‘not credible,’ it causes a disruption to our school day, not to mention the mental toll it takes on many. The safety and security of our campuses and everyone on them is so important. We thank our parents, staff, and students for their understanding when we deal with fast-changing events such as what happened today.”
Swatting calls require an often expensive response by law enforcement, and can be dangerous, heightening the possibility of accidental shootings or other issues going awry simply from the concentration of force and the stepped up urgency.
The Legislature in 2021 passed a law increasing penalties for swatting, making it a third degree felony, for the person calling in the false threat, if the response results in injury to anyone. It would be a second-degree felony if a death were to be a consequence of a swatting call. That’s assuming the person making the call was arrested. That has not been the case in any of the three instances of swatting at Matanzas since November.
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