State officials: One person likely behind hoax school shooting calls in Minnesota

Police vehicles parked outside a high school
Law enforcement respond to Rochester Lourdes High School after a hoax call claiming there was a shooting incident on Wednesday.
Joe Ahlquist | Post Bulletin

State public safety officials now say there were at least 15 “swatting incidents” across Minnesota on Wednesday, in which schools were targeted by a series of hoax calls claiming there was a shooting or someone with a gun on campus.

“Swatting” involves making hoax calls to law enforcement agencies in an attempt to bring a large response to particular addresses.

Schools across the state — including ones in St. Paul, Rochester, Mankato, Austin, Cloquet and International Falls — were targeted.

At a news conference on Thursday, state Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said investigators believe a single person made the calls.

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"That is the information that we've received so far, is it looks like they're coming from a common IP address," he said. "We're still trying to work through the ... different back channels that that came through."

State investigators are working on the case, he said. Officials have said it's a nationwide issue, with similar hoax calls reported in other states.

Gov. Tim Walz, a former teacher, said at Thursday’s news conference that while the calls were fake, they still have an impact.

"While this was a hoax, and that's how it's reported, and here we are on another day, the trauma that was felt by those teachers and those students is so viscerally real,” Walz said. “My 15-year-old, who's here in the St. Paul Public Schools, was receiving real-time videos from his friends in closets at Mankato West (High School), in the very classrooms where I taught.”