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Montana Schools Threatened Friday

Law enforcement in at least six school districts across Montana were put on a hard lockdown in the morning on Dec. 9 following a shooting threat and other threats to school personnel and facilities. Parents were alerted to the threats and all appeared to be hoaxes as of Friday afternoon.

An administrator with the Division of Criminal Investigation said the hoax was likely organized. “This is likely an orchestrated hoax tactic called swatting,” DCI administrator Bryan Lockerby told area media in a statement issued by the Montana Department of Justice. Lockerby said DCI was assisting with the coordination of incoming threats and would be helping to further the investigation and identify the source of the calls, which appear to have come from out of state.

Billings Police Department dispatch received a call at approximately 9:30 a.m., stating there was a shooting at West High School, which proved erroneous. Police and building administration conducted safety checks and discovered no evidence of any safety concerns.

The threats appear to be part of a series of calls made to Montana high schools Friday morning. Cities with schools affected include Colstrip, Red Lodge, Miles City, Manhattan, Missoula, Helena and Forsyth. Cascade and Madison counties were also affected.

A similar series of swatting calls aimed at schools have been reported recently in South Dakota, Oklahoma and Georgia. The FBI encourages the public to report any suspicious activity.

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