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Police: Active shooter calls at Iowa schools are part of ‘swatting’ hoax

By Chad Thompson

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    DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) — Phone calls placed to several Iowa schools on Tuesday claiming there was an active shooter are a hoax, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Stephan Bayens, the commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, spoke about the “swatting” calls during a press conference Tuesday about school safety.

Bayens said swatting calls are a hoax by design.

“It’s to use up law enforcement resources even though there is no active threat,” Bayens said.

Multiple schools were affected, but posed no active threat, according to officials.

“It appears the calls are making their way from eastern Iowa to western Iowa,” Bayens said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds also addressed the swatting calls, saying she’s grateful that Iowa’s kids are safe.

Bayens said the following communities received swatting calls on Tuesday: Cedar Rapids, North Liberty, Iowa City, Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Cerro Gordo County, Story County and Polk County.

Officials said as many as 30 swatting calls were reported.

Bayens believes the calls may have originated from the same person.

“There is similarities in these phone calls,” he said. “The voice is similar.”

However, tracking the calls can be very difficult, he said.

“These calls are typically made through the internet protocols, which makes tracing them incredibly difficult,” Bayens said.

Other states have been impacted by swatting calls in recent memory.

“This is not unique,” Bayens said. “Within the last couple of months, there have been other states that have experienced similar swatting calls. Colorado, Minnesota and Illinois within the last month experienced similar calls.”

Bayens said he wasn’t aware of any active threats at Iowa schools Tuesday.

“At this point in time, we don’t believe there are any active threats to any schools in Iowa,” Bayens. “This appears to be an orchestrated swatting incident that is making its way across the state.”

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