Police say texts regarding shootings sent to several high schools in the Ozarks are unfounded; police investigating

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 2:16 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2023 at 9:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Police across Missouri, including departments in the Ozarks, are investigating swatting texts and calls regarding school shootings.

The incidents happened at Springfield’s Kickapoo High School, Ozark High School, Carthage High School, Carl Junction High School, and Branson High School.

Police responded to a text a shooting happened at Kickapoo High School around 1 p.m. on Monday. In an email to parents, law enforcement quickly concluded it was a false alarm. Police say no one in the school had any idea about the text. Police say the investigation is ongoing.

The Ozark Police Department evacuated Ozark High School to conduct a complete search. Ozark Superintendent Dr. Chris Bauman said after law enforcement conducted their search, they have been given the all-clear. Ozark Junior High was also on lockdown.

“We believe this was a fake call and there was no evidence that shots were ever fired. Other area school districts also received similar reports. Despite this being a regional hoax, Ozark followed all safety and security procedures to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff,” Dr. Bauman said.

The Branson Police Department determined the threat not to be credible. It, too, searched the school.

“Branson law enforcement notified the district of a ‘swatting’ call the police received earlier today, March 27,” said Supt. Dr. Brad Swofford, Superintendent. “Law enforcement has indicated that there was no credible threat to Branson High School. All dismissals will occur as normal. The term ‘swatting’ refers to hoax calls being placed to 911 reporting an emergency such as an armed intruder, active shooting, or other critical incident that necessitates a large and immediate law enforcement response, possibly including a SWAT team. This has been occurring nationally recently, and especially in our state and region today. Branson Public Schools takes all threats seriously as student and staff safety is our top priority.”

There have been similar texts to schools in the Kansas City area, Sedalia, Knob Noster, and the St. Louis area.

Sargent Mike McClure with the Missouri State Highway Patrol says authorities did connect the calls and texts made around the state.

He said, “The IP addresses regarding where the calls originated were out of the country. Brazil. Argentina. It creates quite a bit of anxiety for something that’s false.”

McClure says preparedness can make all the difference.

“It’s a matter of the story of crying wolf. Applaud the schools for doing what they did. Yes, it’s an inconvenience and hopefully, we can let the adrenaline simmer down as far as our parents and the concerns they had and the anxiety that they felt, it turned out well,” he said.

The calls happened hours after six died in a school shooting at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com