Police: Hoax targets several Utah schools with fake shooting threats

Mar 29, 2023, 10:26 AM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — First responders were sent to multiple Utah high schools Wednesday due to calls reporting an active shooter, but police have confirmed none of the threats were credible and no students were in danger.

Authorities said they received calls reporting an active shooter at Box Elder, Provo, Ogden, Spanish Fork, Grand County, Crimson Cliffs, and West high schools Wednesday morning, with the first call coming in at 9:30 a.m.

Ogden police responded to the school and cleared it as a precaution. Ogden School District officials said multiple schools were victims of the same hoax on Wednesday.

“We understand the concern of parents,” district officials said. “Please understand the obligation to support law-enforcement response in their precautionary protocol. Please do not come to the school… Students will not be released until police have cleared the building.”

Moab schools were also placed on lockdown.

Salt Lake City schools are on spring break this week. SLC police responded to West High and secured the building, adding they have confirmed the threat of an active shooter was unfounded.

“Out of an abundance of caution, officers entered the school and did a tactical search. There were no injuries reported and no evidence of any gunfire found,” SLC police said in a statement.

“I am proud of the response from our officers and the Salt Lake City Fire Department,” said Mike Brown, Salt Lake City police chief. “We will do everything we can to identify the person or persons responsible for this unfounded report. These are not pranks or hoaxes; they put our community, including our officers, in danger.”

Provo School District officials said officers responded to the school but no threat was located, and they are preparing to clear the scene. Classes will resume as normal shortly.

“Officers responded immediately, and whilst clearing the school it was learned that at least four other schools within Utah County received similar calls,” Provo police said in a statement. “No verified threats, injuries, or suspicious activity have been found. Officers will continue to investigate the origin of the call.”

Nebo School District officials said officers swept Spanish Fork High after also receiving a report of an active shooter, but no threat was found.

“All students and faculty are safe,” Nebo spokesperson said. “This was a false report of an active shooter. Police responded quickly and lockdown protocol was immediately put into place. Police have swept the building and have deemed it safe. For parents that want to pick up their students please park in the church parking lot south of the main building on Center Street. Law enforcement will determine when students can be released to their parents.”

Police respond to Spanish Fork High School after receiving reports of an active shooter, which were unfounded. (Madison  Swenson/KSL TV) Police respond to Spanish Fork High School after receiving reports of an active shooter, which were unfounded. (Madison  Swenson/KSL TV) Police respond to Spanish Fork High School after receiving reports of an active shooter, which were unfounded. (Madison  Swenson/KSL TV) Police respond to Spanish Fork High School after receiving reports of an active shooter, which were unfounded. (Madison  Swenson/KSL TV)

Box Elder County officials said Box Elder High was put on a brief lockdown while officers investigated the threat. Officers were able to determine there were no actual threats and that the call had originated elsewhere.

Crimson Cliffs High School in Washington City in southern Utah was locked down at approximately 10 a.m. after reports of a potential shooting.

According to the Washington City Police Department information was provided to the school resource officer, who began a search of the school while other agencies responded to the school.

“There were no threats located at the school or other schools inside Washington County,” police stated in a release.

Hilary Coleman with the Utah Department of Public Safety told KSL TV that all the calls, which came to a total of 13 Utah schools on Wednesday, are being tracked to one man from a number that connects to an IP address outside of the Unites States.

Local and federal agencies are currently investigating.

Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement about the shooting threats Wednesday:

We’re aware of the multiple hoax calls claiming active shooter situations in various schools across our state. These calls are taken very seriously and are immediately looked into by state, local and federal law enforcement agencies.

We appreciate the diligent work of local law enforcement in responding to these calls and commend the Utah Department of Public Safety for their work in coordinating with local and federal law enforcement and investigating the origins of these calls. We remind all Utahns to stay vigilant and be aware of updates from your local officials.

Schools hit by hoax nationwide

Multiple schools in Pennsylvania also reported receiving hoax calls about an active shooter on Wednesday. Over two dozen schools were hit by similar hoax calls in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

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Police: Hoax targets several Utah schools with fake shooting threats