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In what appears to have been a coordinated threat effort, several Colorado schools went into lockdown this morning. Law enforcement agencies responded to schools in Boulder, Brighton, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Durango, Aspen, Alamosa, Englewood, and Cañon City.

While the incidents were confirmed to be false reports, and all lockdowns have been lifted at this time, school districts, students staff and parents remain rattled by the events.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The reports and threats, which turned out to have no basis in reality are part of what is called “swatting.” Swatting refers to a hoax call that falsely reports an emergency. It pulls resources away from other, genuine circumstances and emergencies, and needlessly sends schools and buildings into lockdowns, or lockouts.* A swarm of swatting incidents took place a few months ago on the East Coast.

The status across each school district was unique to each school.

Cañon City Schools (CCS) said that Cañon City High School was on lockdown Wednesday morning. According to the district’s website, the High School was released from lockdown at 12:09 p.m. and this message was posted:

“Update posted at 12:09 p.m. Cañon City High School has been released from lockdown and has returned to operations as normal. The cause of the lockdown was due to a false threat reports at numerous schools across the state. This was not an isolated incident in Cañon City. While the incident caused discomfort for staff and students, we are glad to report that everyone is safe and no injuries have been reported. All Cañon City Schools remain on a modified secured status which means that any entry or exits will be monitored by school staff.”

All three Aspen School District schools (elementary, middle and high school) were put on lockdown “due to an unknown incident” in the vicinity of the schools, but the lockdown was released at 10:20 a.m. this morning.

In Alamosa School District )ASD), Alamosa dispatch received a call from an unknown number at 8:24 a.m. this morning reporting a threat of an armed individual at Ortega Middle School. “This call triggered a timely response from the Alamosa Police Department (APD),” said ASD Superintendent Diana Jones in a statement. “APD was on the school grounds promptly and placed the school on lockdown within a minute.”

In Brighton, a call to the Brighton Police Department was received at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday from someone who said they had a bomb outside the high school. But the caller hung up and did not answer when Police dispatch called back. At 9:45 a.m., Brighton Police said that no credible threat had been found.

Boulder received a different threat scenario. There, the Boulder Police Department (BPD) responded to an unconfirmed report of a shooter at Boulder High School this morning. But they found no one injured and no evidence of a shooter. At 10:00 a.m. as a precaution, Boulder Police said buses were enroute to the high school to evacuate students to a reunification center. Boulder Police also put out a shelter-in-place order and asked the public to avoid the area around Boulder High School.

In Durango School District, the high school was put on secure lockout for about an hour, with the lockout lifted at 10:07 a.m.  “DHS received a call from the 911 Communication Center about an armed suspect approaching the campus,” Durango School District 9-R said on its website. “The district and local law enforcement take all threats very seriously.” After a search, there were no threats identified.

Englewood School District too was hit with a threat, as were Glenwood Springs (The Roaring Fork Schools) and Carbondale.

In Buena Vista by coincidence, a practice lockdown took place in coordination with the Buena Vista Police Department, but it appears to have had nothing to do with the threats received at the other schools. It was simply a practice drill.

In Colorado, the punishment for filing a false police report in Colorado depends on the specific statute. 2.1 False Reporting Penalties False reporting is normally a Colorado Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or a fine up to $750.