Hoax active shooter calls to schools across Wisconsin have taken a real toll on families and law enforcement.
The false threats, known as swatting, have hit schools in Madison, Janesville, Kenosha, Franklin, Milwaukee, Port Washington and Sheboygan, to name a few.
On Thursday morning, dispatchers in Kenosha relayed an alarm call reporting a man with a rifle, allegedly on the second floor of Bradford High School.
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The police rushed to the school. Families anxiously lined up trying to reach their children.
Ultimately, authorities said there was never a credible threat.
“It was pretty scary. You know, I was sitting in the car crying,” said Bradford High School parent Alyssa Rehm.
In the heat of the moment, one student thought about how to escape.
“I was looking at the window. I was thinking, maybe I could just take a chair and then slam it against the corner of the window and then maybe get people to come out,” TJ Royce recalled.
An eerily similar scene unfolded at Port Washington High School. 14-year-old Cameron Bennett was in health class at the time.
“We all hid under the tables,” Bennett said.
His mother was relieved but overwhelmed with emotion even after learning the threat wasn’t real.
“If something happened to him, I just don’t know. It’s just a sick world,” Rachel Bennett said.
A fake threat also hit Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. 15-year-old Milan Sanchez had just finished band class when the alert came. She left school early with her mother.
“She’s like, are you okay? Is there anything I can do? I was like, ‘No, I’m fine, it was just a little scary. I’m a little shaken right now,'” Sanchez said.
The teenager echoed what many students and parents felt.
“You never know what could happen during the day. It could be a joke one moment, the next moment it could be real,” Sanchez said.
As news of the calls spread, some school districts proactively contacted their families.
The Menomonee Falls School District made it clear they did not receive a false alert and noted that the calls appeared to be coming from out of state.
Other states such as Minnesota and Florida have reported similar attacks of hoax threats in schools.
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