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State, federal agents investigating whether school threats across Michigan were coordinated

Jennifer Chambers Carol Thompson Charles E. Ramirez Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

OKEMOS, Michigan — Local, state and federal law enforcement teams were deployed Tuesday to at least seven high schools across Michigan after false threats known as "swatting" were made in what some officials called a "coordinated campaign," causing students to be evacuated or sent into lockdown mode.

High schools in Detroit, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Okemos and Portage were the victims of the prank calls, State Police said. The Muskegon school district in west Michigan confirmed on its Facebook page that the high school was targeted with a "false threat." Another threat was made to Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw Township, which was briefly placed on lockdown.

The large scale of false threats across the state prompted federal officials to respond, including the deployment of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading the probe into the threats, said State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner.

"These threats continue to be an ongoing investigation," said Tracy Morris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Any information on leads or suspects would be speculation at this time. We’re working closely with our local law enforcement partners associated with each school."

Investigators reported the threats followed a pattern: The caller said the school's name and gave its address, stated it is a teacher reporting that a student has shot another student, and provided room numbers that do not exist in the school.

The Michigan Intelligence Operations Center, a part of the State Police, and the Detroit and Southeast Michigan Information and Intelligence Center reported to Michigan school districts on Tuesday that the threats "are the actions of a coordinated campaign targeting K-12 education facilities in Michigan," but they are unaware of any "specific or credible threats to K-12 educational facilities in Michigan."


The ATF's Morris said Tuesday afternoon she could not confirm that assessment.

"There hasn’t been a confirmation on that information, yet. It is part of the investigation, though," she said.

The FBI also would not confirm or deny any details about the incidents but said it was working with local law enforcement agencies to investigate.

"The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents in which an active shooter has been reported at schools across the state. FBI agents are working alongside our local and state law enforcement partners to identify the source of the hoax threats. Due to the ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide more details," spokeswoman Mara Schneider said in a statement.


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