Series of active school shooter calls across Lehigh Valley deemed a hoax
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Bogus active shooter threats caused a large police presence and scared hundreds of students throughout the Lehigh Valley on Wednesday morning.
It came just a day after a school shooter killed three students and adults in Nashville.
- Police received several reports of shootings at area schools
- All were deemed to be false
- It happened a day after three students and three adults died in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.
"It's a terrible thing, especially coming so closely on the heels of what occurred in Nashville the other day," Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said.
The hoax calls — known as "swatting calls" — are intended to draw a massive police response. They occurred at several schools, including William Allen High School in Allentown, Nazareth Area High School and Catasauqua High School in Allen Township.
There was also a hoax call at Phillipsburg High School in Warren County, N.J.
Authorities didn't know the reports were bogus until arriving at the schools to investigate.
"We know that is something that the community gets upset about, they get worried about," Trooper Nathan Branosky said. "We take these very seriously and know that we're here to protect the students, the faculty, everyone associated with schools."
Allentown police received a report about 7:46 a.m. that multiple victims were shot at Allen High School, Capt. Alicia Conjour said in a news release. After responding, police found it to be a false report after clearing the school.
Around 8 a.m. Wednesday, law enforcement received a call reporting an active shooter inside Catasauqua High School and that students had been wounded, according to state police.
State police troopers from the Bethlehem and Fogelsville stations responded within minutes, said Branosky. He said the school was placed on lockdown and cleared. Students have since returned to class.
"We soon realized that there was not an active shooter," Branosky said. "That it was a swatting call."
All of the calls are under investigation.
Branosky said the state police Bethlehem Criminal Investigation Unit is the lead agency in the Catasauqua High investigation. He said troopers are being assisted by the FBI and the Catasauqua school resource officer.
They are working to determine the origin of the calls.
"These calls can originate from anywhere. They can happen overseas," he said. "They can happen here in the region and that's why we're diligently trying to find out where these calls originated."
Several local teens were arrested in November 2022 for false calls of violence to Allentown schools, but Martin said the preliminary evidence shows Wednesday's calls came from out of state.
Troopers will continue to have a visible presence at schools throughout the region for the remainder of the school year, Branosky said.
Allentown police asked that anyone with information on the hoax at Allen High contact police at 610-437-7721 or make an anonymous tip through the city's Tip411 app.