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Local law enforcement reemphasize danger of ‘swatting’ after FBI warning

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Local law enforcement experts are echoing the FBI's recent warning about 'swatting.'

Last week, the FBI warned of the trend as several schools in Missouri received threats. Swatting can come in a few different forms, but the FBI offices in Kansas City and St. Louis are seeing people calling in active shooter threats into schools.

Both law enforcement and schools take these threats seriously as they can turn deadly.

"It's not funny, it's not a prank, it's a crime, and it puts peoples lives in jeopardy," said Todd Burke, Police officer and Instructor with Tactical Training Specialties.

Experts say swatting is a dangerous trend that carries a high risk of violence and wastes tax dollars and law enforcement resources on false reports of serious emergencies.

"It could be anything from a false alarm call to the fire department saying, 'hey, there's a fire' when there's not too something that's an armed encounter where someone is saying their life is in danger, someone's holding them hostage," Burke said.

There have been three swatting incidents in the U.S. this week, the most recent one happened Wednesday at a school in Minnesota caused by a hoax threat. Schools in several Colorado cities were targeted yesterday.

The FBI said it was investigating after several swatting calls in Missouri schools.

"Until we can verify that it is an actual swatting incident we have to respond accordingly which draws on resources from other agencies and that takes away from the community," said Cpl. Kyle Green with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Law enforcement said not only is swatting illegal and a waste of resources, it can also be deadly.

"It can impact so many lives. We never know until it happens how many people are affected and in what ways they are affected," said Capt. Brian Leer with the Boone County Sheriff's Office.

Locally schools take any sort of threat seriously. The University of Missouri said students that take prank actions with law enforcement and local authorities can face legal action and discipline through the university.

"They would be subject to any law — state or federal — that addresses prank actions with law enforcement, emergency services and local authorities. Additionally, they could face disciplinary action from the Office of Student Accountability and Support if they were a student. Staff and faculty could face possible disciplinary action from human resources." Said Sara Diedrich, Public Information Specialist with the MU News Bureau, in a statement.

An attorney said someone who makes a threat involving a felony like an active shooting or hostage situation, will be charged with a felony crime charge.

Article Topic Follows: Crime
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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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