BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A series of active shooter threats scared students, teachers and parents on Thursday. Several schools were placed on lockdown across Western New York and the entire state.
These fake reports come just three days after six students and staff were killed at a school in Nashville. This left parents, students and staff in a state of shock, panic and fear.
“I picked up the phone and said ‘What’s going on?’ and he said take a breath we just got word there is an active shooter at the high school. And I panicked,” Adrienne Kuzma, a parent of a Lockport High School senior, told News 4.
South Park High School in South Buffalo and Lockport High School students were placed into lockdown, fearing that an active shooter had entered their buildings.
“Automatically you think the worst. You think ‘Oh my God, not here’,” Edward Speidel, a parent of a South Park High School sophomore, said.
Speidel said he immediately began calling members of the board of education, trying to figure out what happened. He saw the initial reports on Facebook. For his son, these threats are normal, according to Speidel.
“Doesn’t phase him. It’s just another day in the life of a tenth grader,” Speidel added.
Kuzma is the owner of Stooges Restaurant. She closed her doors Thursday until she knew her son was safe.
“I just said we are closing until I can have my son in my hands,” Kuzma said. “We just kind of waited it out and everything was good.”
Swatting calls were made to the Newfane, Olean, and Silver Creek School Districts, among others in the area. The calls are fake threats that create a large police presence that usually includes the SWAT team.
“It creates panic and concern and frustrations for our students, for our staff for our parents and it’s very unfortunate,” Dr. Mathias Calvin III, superintendent of Lockport City School District, said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The New York State United Teachers calls the threats “a new low in callousness and depravity”.
As our nation reels and mourns schoolchildren lost in yet another mass shooting, today’s incidents are a new low in callousness and depravity. These swatting attacks endanger our brave members of law enforcement, terrorize children, educators and parents, and waste valuable resources. We know the FBI and local law enforcement are doing everything they can to catch these perpetrators, and we look forward to the day when they are brought to justice.NYSUT
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia says this is the second swatting incident in the Queen City in just a month.
“Every school has to take this seriously. We just saw what happened just the other day in Nashville and this is no joking matter. We are going to aggressively respond to these calls,” Gramaglia said. “We will prosecute you. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent. It’s not a joking matter.”
Law enforcement believes these calls came from out of state. The FBI said in a statement to News 4 that it takes these threats seriously and is working to investigate.
The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. 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.FBI
New York State Police says all active shooter reports were unfounded and it is also investigating these threats alongside local and federal partners.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.