Feb 8, 2023

Multiple Michigan Schools Across the State Hit With ‘swatting’ attempts Transcript

Multiple Michigan Schools Across the State Hit With 'swatting' attempts Transcript
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Michigan State Police said there were also false reports of bomb threats and active shooters at schools throughout the state. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Phony school threats this morning sent police agencies across the state scrambling today. At least eight schools were targeted, including two in West Michigan.

Speaker 2 (00:09):

Authorities received calls of active shooters at Muskegon High School and Portage Northern High School in Kalamazoo County. The same thing happened in mid-Michigan, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. Now the big question, who is responsible? We have team coverage this afternoon. Coming up we’ll hear from law enforcement involved in today’s investigation.

Speaker 1 (00:28):

But we start with 13 On Your Side’s Carla Bayron outside Muskegon High School. Carla, how did all of this unfold?

Carla Bayron (00:37):

Yeah, the prank call came in shortly after 9:00 this morning, and school officials basically knew right away that this call wasn’t credible. However, they still activated their emergency action plan, and Muskegon police responded within a few short minutes. Now, the Muskegon Public School’s superintendent tells me the 911 caller had an accent and told police they were a teacher inside the school and that a student shot another student. They also gave police a room number that belonged to an administrative office, so school officials knew this was a false report right away. These same calls came into other high schools across the state, including Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Okemos in mid-Michigan. MSP states these hoax calls are also known as swatting, which is meant to evoke a very aggressive response from the police and usually includes a SWAT team. The Muskegon Public School superintendent says swatting is a brand new threat for the district and they’re dangerous and disruptive.

Matthew Cortez (01:38):

I think part of the stress that’s on our parents is that our kids are living through a school environment that we never had to. Not in my wildest dreams when I was in school did I ever think that somebody was going to come in with a gun and do something.

Carla Bayron (01:59):

MSP tweeted this morning that yesterday several Walmart stores in East Michigan were also involved in fake bomb threat reports. Now, if you know anything about who made these hoax calls, you are asked to call the police or silent observer. Reporting live in Muskegon, Carla Bayron, 13 On Your Side.

Speaker 2 (02:18):

And as the day continued, our team searched for as many details as we could.

Speaker 1 (02:22):

13 On Your Side’s Keely Lovern spoke to law enforcement involved in today’s situation as well as an expert on Homeland Security.

Speaker 2 (02:30):

And Keely joins us now with what she found out.

Keely Lovern (02:33):

Well, the investigation is still extremely early, but from what I’ve gathered, law enforcement and experts alike think what happened today could be much bigger than just a threat from a student.

Michael McDaniel (02:44):

Don’t think that this is funny. Don’t think this is a prank. It’s much more than that.

Keely Lovern (02:49):

Reports of active shooter swatting calls to schools throughout Michigan Tuesday has law enforcement on full alert.

Michael McDaniel (02:56):

There is some indications to Michigan law enforcement, state police, and the attorney general’s office that this is not just a prank call from a student and a copycat call. That there’s something greater than that going on here.

Keely Lovern (03:13):

According to Michigan State Police, the calls were similar and are being investigated even on a national level.

Michelle Robinson (03:20):

We’re still looking into as far as where this originated, but it did affect multiple schools throughout the state.

Keely Lovern (03:29):

Few details have been revealed, but Director of Homeland law professor at WMU Cooley Law School, who has years of experience in Homeland Security, says similar situations have happened in the past couple of years.

Michael McDaniel (03:41):

But what preliminary investigation that has been revealed, and there’s an ongoing investigation here by the FBI and others, is that these attacks in the two previous cases seem to have originated from outside the United States. A male voice, an adult male voice, and I’m sure they’re doing some voice analysis to determine that. The calls originated or seem to originate out of Ethiopia.

Keely Lovern (04:09):

As for the calls from Tuesday …

Jeff Vanderwiere (04:11):

My understanding is that there was a heavy accent.

Michelle Robinson (04:13):

Because we don’t know the origin of them yet, we can’t determine whether it was an overseas call, if it was a in-state call, whether it was a student. We don’t have that information at this time.

Michael McDaniel (04:26):

There seems to be some sophistication to the attacks, which would also suggest that there’s some form of organization behind it, which would also suggest that perhaps that they are organized for a reason, which would build towards a terrorism charge.

Michelle Robinson (04:45):

The safety of our students and faculty is a number one priority, and so we do take these threats very, very seriously.

Keely Lovern (04:54):

For law enforcement agencies who did have to deploy resources today, they say they’re grateful that these were nothing more than hoax, but that they’re always ready and have plans in place should that not have been the case.

Speaker 2 (05:07):

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said both threats of violence and swatting have serious consequences.

Speaker 1 (05:13):

Yeah, here is a look at the potential charges someone could face for these threats. The time someone could spend behind bars for threats ranges from one year for a misdemeanor or 20 years for a felony.

Speaker 2 (05:25):

Swatting, defined as a prank call to emergency services with a goal of sending law enforcement to a particular location, has its own set of consequences. If a false report leads to someone’s death, a suspect could serve up to 15 years in prison.

Speaker 1 (05:39):

In addition to serving time, those who are found guilty of these kinds of crimes can face fines of up to $50,000.

Speaker 2 (05:47):

And if you missed any of our coverage on the swatting investigation, you can watch our 90 minutes of news on our streaming app, 13+, starting at 6:30.

Speaker 1 (05:55):

We also have continuing coverage right now on 13onyourside.com.

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