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EPD and Others Responded to ‘Active Shooter’ with ‘10 Victims,’ which proved to be false

An Evansville Police Department cruiser is parked near Memorial Highschool the later afternoon of the incident, Wednesday Nov. 8.
Tim Jagielo
An Evansville Police Department cruiser is parked near Memorial Highschool the later afternoon of the incident, Wednesday Nov. 8.

Police have declared this Memorial Highschool call a ‘swatting’ incident, a felony act pulling emergency services to a location with no incident in progress

The Evansville Police Department and several other agencies responded to a phone tip of an “active shooter” situation Wednesday morning at Reitz Memorial High School.

Luckily that call was found to be false and there was no threat.

The caller told dispatch that there were 10 victims on the second floor. The caller offered little other information and it was the only call dispatch received.

EPD and the sheriff’s office and state police among others came to the scene and cleared the building, which had been in lock down since the 8 a.m. call. There were also school resource officers.

Sgt. Anna Gray with the EPD said such false calls are dangerous for several reasons.

“The students inside if you think about the panic, the sheer panic, that everybody's thinking, ‘what's going on,’ maybe students running around," she said. "Certainly tying up first responders because everybody's going to that run.”

Gray says such calls are not only dangerous and stressful for students and staff , but a waste of resources — numerous officers searched the building twice.

She said there had been several other false threat calls in the region that morning. This call was from an out-of-area number and the caller had a “foreign accent.” Dispatch found the call to be suspicious.

“That being said, no matter what, when something like that happens, we have to take it as a real call,” Gray said. “Even if even if there's some suspicious circumstances surrounding the call.”

Gray said these are called “swatting” calls — a felony act pulling emergency services to a location with no incident in progress. These false calls are taken very seriously by police.

“I caution anybody you know, who's thinking about doing something like this as a joke, you know, picking up the phone and calling 911 or doing a swatting incident,” she said. “We're going to spend a lot of time on this investigation looking into who does this and you know, if we can figure that out, or when we do figure that out, they will be looking at charges.”

Swatting can be a level 5 felony under the Intimidation Statute.

She said there have been other incidents locally, but it’s been several years.

This incident is under investigation.

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Memorial High School on Lincoln Avenue in Evansville
Tim Jagielo
Memorial High School on Lincoln Avenue in Evansville

The full EPD news release

On November 8th, at 8:16 a.m., Evansville Police Officers were dispatched to Memorial High School for an active threat situation. Dispatch advised that the caller said there was an active shooter inside the school and 10 victims were down on the 2nd floor. Dispatch had only received that one call.

Multiple law enforcement agencies including EPD, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, Indiana State
Police, and EVSC Police responded to Memorial High School. Law Enforcement cleared the school.

It was quickly determined that there was no threat inside the school, everyone was safe, and no one had been injured.

The initial call was very suspicious. The caller had a foreign accent and used a number that was not local to the area. It seems that the caller purposely called in a false run to the school to cause panic, which is sometimes referred to as “Swatting.”

Luckily, this was a false run, and no one was injured. However, law enforcement responded to the incident
as if it were a real active threat situation and arrived within just a couple of minutes.

“Swatting” is very dangerous and is illegal. This part of the investigation is still active, and investigators are working to determine who called this run into Dispatch.

Local Law Enforcement also learned that several other similar false active threat calls were made around the
United States this morning.

Investigators will also be working with those other agencies to determine if these incidents were in fact made by the same caller and are connected.

If you have any information regarding this investigation, please contact EPD Adult Investigations Unit at (812) 436-7979.