Governor says fake school shooting calls may be from another country

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:03 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - State and federal agents are investigating after fake calls about active shooters were reported at more than a dozen schools across South Carolina on Wednesday morning - and investigators believe they may be coming from someone in another country.

The Greenville Police Department said a false shooting was reported at Greenville High School, but a school resource officer was on scene and reported no activity related to a shooting. Police responded to the school and confirmed there was no shooting after searching the building.

“While today’s threat was a hoax, Greenville County Schools takes any and all reports of this nature seriously and responds to the full degree,” said district spokesperson Tim Waller.

Additional law enforcement will be on Greenville High’s campus for the rest of the day as a precaution.

This was just one of many fake threats reported across the state.

Map of counties in South Carolina that received fake active school shooter calls on Wednesday,...
Map of counties in South Carolina that received fake active school shooter calls on Wednesday, Oct. 5.(Fox Carolina News)

Governor Henry McMaster addressed the incidents while in Greenville on Wednesday for a manufacturing event saying, “It’s just ridiculous and it’s a crime.”

“I’m informed by law enforcement that those are not legitimate calls,” McMaster said. “I hope that they find who’s doing that, I hope that kind of conduct will stop immediately.”

Police respond to false shooting call at Greenville High

A similar fake shooter call was also reported about Robert Anderson Middle School, but the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said there was no threat.

“Anytime there is a perceived threat at any of our schools, we will respond as if our own children are there,” a spokesperson for the agency said.

A viewer shared a picture of a large crowd of parents at Robert Anderson Middle trying to pick up their children after the call came in.

A crowd of parents tries to pick up their children after a fake school shooting threat was...
A crowd of parents tries to pick up their children after a fake school shooting threat was called in to Robert Anderson Middle School.(Viewer photo)

Cynthia Randolph, whose grandchildren attend Robert Anderson Middle School, said the experience was scary but that law enforcement and school officials did an excellent job handling the incident.

“It was a good relief to know that it was a fake prank phone call,” Randolph said. “And it’s even better knowing that you can hold your babies and take them home.”

Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride said deputies treated the threat like it was real until they cleared the entire building. He called it a “ridiculous amount of wasted time and effort” but said everyone was determined to protect the children at Robert Anderson Middle School.

“But I can tell you, whether it’s false or not or a hoax or not, we’re still going to respond,” McBride said. “I hope that parents know, especially in Anderson County: You will never see a response like we saw in Uvalde, Texas. That is something you will never see.”

He also had strong words for the person responsible for the hoax.

Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride had strong words for whoever is behind a series of fake active shooter calls reported at schools in SC.

Greenwood School District 50 said Greenwood High School received an automatic call about a potential active shooter. Law enforcement immediately responded and cleared the building. Nothing out of the ordinary was found.

Laurens Police Department received an unsubstantiated call about an active shooter at Laurens High School. Police said they quickly determined there was no active threat and checked all the schools in city limits as a precaution.

The School District of Oconee County said police received a hoax call about a shooting at one of the schools in the district on Wednesday afternoon. The district said extra staff and law enforcement will remain on site for the remainder of the day.

Spartanburg School District 7 said a fake shooting call was also placed about Spartanburg High School.

In total, fake shooting calls have been reported in at least 15 districts in South Carolina on Wednesday, including the following counties:

  • Anderson
  • Beaufort
  • Charleston
  • Chester
  • Chesterfield
  • Greenville
  • Greenwood
  • Horry
  • Lancaster
  • Laurens
  • Newberry
  • Oconee
  • Richland

Officials in Richland County said the incidents appear to have stemmed from a challenge on TikTok.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said they are evaluating the credibility of the threats and while they believe they are a hoax, each jurisdiction is encouraged to take the threats seriously.

SLED said they are actively working with federal law enforcement partners in the investigation.

The governor said Mark Keel, the chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, said the calls have all been roughly the same and allege a child has been shot or someone has been killed at a school.

“They think this voice or this transmission is coming from another country,” McMaster said. “It’s a foreign voice... and they believe that it is all a hoax.

Governor Henry McMaster releases new details about a series of hoax calls reporting fake active shooter situations at schools across the state.

McMaster said the incidents are not just isolated to South Carolina - similar situations have occurred in other states. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in the case as well.

A regional spokesperson for the FBI released the following statement:

“The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. Similar incidents have occurred recently across the country. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

Attorney General Alan Wilson tweeted he was “disgusted” by the fake active shooter calls and said “the state will not treat them as jokes.”

Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.