911 caller in school shooting hoax claimed to be student

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A 911 caller who reported a false active shooter Friday at Central Catholic High School claimed to be a student.

The call made at 10:31 a.m. to the Clark County dispatch’s non-emergency number sparked an immediate response that brought a swarm of law enforcement to the unaware campus at 1200 E. High St. in Springfield.

“There is an active shooter,” said the caller in heavily accented English.

The caller said 10 students were hurt by a shooter he described as a 20-year-old Black man armed with an AK-47 rifle. The caller claimed to be a student named James Park who said he was in a second floor English class in Room 201. He disconnected the call when the dispatcher asked for his phone number.

Springfield Police Division officers were at the school within two minutes and immediately entered the school. Clark County Sheriff’s deputies also responded.

“Within approximately five minutes, we reached the door of the classroom that was given to us, and it was determined that there was no active killer in the room, no active shooter in the room,” said Springfield police Capt. Mike Kranz during a Friday afternoon media briefing. “At that point the crews began checking each hallway, each room. They traveled up and down all three floors of the building and were able to determine there was no threat at that time.”

The building was given the all-clear at 10:53 a.m., he said.

Once the threat was determined to be a hoax, the city issued a statement shortly after 11 a.m.: “There is NOT a shooter, and students and staff are safe. Springfield police are on scene. There is NO threat at Catholic Central High School, and the school is not closing.”

Catholic Central remained open and dismissed at normal time Friday afternoon.

“Our first and only thought was keeping our kids safe,” said Mike Raiff, Central Catholic president, who also spoke at the media briefing.

False active shooter reports also were made Friday to Belmont High School in Dayton, Princeton High School in suburban Cincinnati, and Licking Valley Schools in Newark.

The Ohio School Safety Center is working with the Statewide Terrorism Analysis and Crime Center as well as schools and local law enforcement as they investigate the active shooter threats.

This behavior, known as “swatting,” also has been reported in schools across the country. Swatting is a form of weaponizing fear and involves making a claim that draws first responders and law enforcement, straining their resources. It sparks concern throughout communities, especially those that have previously endured actual active shooter and mass casualty incidents.

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