Davis Co. school shooter report latest Utah hoax
SALT LAKE CITY — The latest in a string of recent Utah school evacuations was triggered Tuesday by an ominous call from inside the school.
The boy, 13, told police dispatchers in hushed tones that there was a student with a gun inside the Clearfield junior high school.
“I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go,” he whispered before hanging up.
More than 80 police officers from throughout Davis County rushed to the school as the school principal announced a lockdown over the public address system.
Armed officers canvassed the school as students huddled together and hid in corners, said Clearfield Police Sgt. Kyle Jeffries. Officers didn’t find any gunmen during the first sweep of the school, and escorted about 1,000 students outside with their hands in the air. Some were crying, and others were visibly frightened.
A few students grabbed police officers and told them it was a prank call, Jeffries said, so police did one more search inside to confirm it was a hoax.
“At first, of course, we were glad because we didn’t have an actual threat,” Jeffries told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “At the same time, were extremely irritated that we wasted all those resources, time and energy just to deal with a prank phone call.”
The boy who made the call was arrested Tuesday night and is in a juvenile detention center facing felony terrorist threat charges. His name is not being released by officials. The Davis County Attorney’s office is mulling what charges, if any, to file.
The incident in the town of about 30,000 illustrates just how seriously police and schools across the country now take any possible threat — especially ones like Tuesday’s that are called in from inside the school. Two other nearby schools were briefly put on lockdown as well Tuesday.
After the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut, police have the responsibility to treat every threat as if it is legitimate, Jeffries said.
“For the kids, I hope they realize there is no room anymore for prank phone calls when it comes to the safety of the students,” Jeffries said. “There is going to be legitimate consequences.”
Several other schools have evacuated in recent months in the Salt Lake City area — most due to false alarms or for precautionary reasons.
In late April, a school in Spanish Fork sent 1,600 students home early after a suspicious backpack was found outside. Police used a robot to retrieve the duct-taped backpack and took it to a remote canyon where they found only books, a calculator and deodorant.
Earlier that month, about 700 students from elementary school in Layton were ushered to a nearby church after a maintenance worker found a soda can-sized pipe bomb on the school roof. It didn’t go off and didn’t have a fuse.
In the Davis County School District, lockdown drills have been required as part of the international fire code since 2009, said district spokesman Chris Williams. The junior high evacuated Tuesday had done three lockdown drills this school year, he said.
As in training, teachers quickly pulled all students out of the hallways and into the classrooms for the lockdown.
“I think we take it more serious than we had in the past just because of the world that we live in,” Williams said.