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Posted on: February 13, 2023

Amesbury Police Department Investigating Alleged "Swatting" Incident at Amesbury High School

Update-43

Police Chief Craig Bailey and Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth McAndrews report that the school day was disrupted Monday after an alleged act of "swatting."

The Amesbury Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are actively investigating after a large police response was summoned to Amesbury High School after the regional emergency dispatch center received a threatening call.  The call was received at approximately 11:42 a.m. Monday with a male voice saying they had a firearm near the school. The emergency call taker then heard what appeared to be the sound of gunshots before the caller hung up.

The Amesbury Police Department and Amesbury Public Schools immediately implemented their established policies and procedures, which included a lockdown of the high school, a secure mode activation for all other schools in Amesbury, and a large police and emergency response.

Police conducted a search of the high school and surrounding area but soon received intelligence from other law enforcement agencies that other similar reports were made in multiple cities and towns in Massachusetts on Monday. After determining that the schools were not in any danger, police turned the school day back over to school administrators.

Police were on-scene within minutes, with mutual aid coming in from Newburyport, Salisbury, Merrimac, the Massachusetts State Police and regional law enforcement units from the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), of which Amesbury is a member.

Chief Bailey praised the immediate police response and called out the real danger posed by these types of incidents.

"Swatting calls like the one we received today use a tremendous amount of police and emergency resources, diverting those resources away from other potential emergencies," Chief Bailey said. "We are pleased that our policies and procedures were followed, and I am very grateful for the response of our officers and the pouring in of mutual aid resources from our neighbors and regional partners."

The school day resumed, but several families dismissed their children for the day.

"I am grateful to our faculty, staff and students for their patience and cooperation today, and I am reassured to see everyone following the appropriate procedures today," Superintendent McAndrews said. "This was an unwelcome disruption, but we are all thankful that there is no active threat or danger to our schools. I would particularly like to thank our families for adhering to protocol and trusting us with the safety of their children, staying away from the schools and allowing law enforcement to do their jobs safely."

"Swatting," according to Oxford Language is “the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.” The phrase entered the dictionary in 2015 and has been recognized as a criminal phenomenon by the FBI since at least 2008. 

The incident remains under active investigation by the Amesbury Police Department. 

 

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