Home / LCSO says national ‘swatting’ event leads to call about gun at South Fort Myers High School

LCSO says national ‘swatting’ event leads to call about gun at South Fort Myers High School

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Parents are breathing a sigh of relief on Friday after a school threat ended up being a hoax at South Fort Myers High School.

But for an hour-and-a-half, parents were unsure what was happening and children hiding in classrooms were uninformed.

The hoax, called into the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at around 1 p.m, led to authorities rushing to the Plantation Road school.

The relief and happiness were present on the face Yahaira Matias when she got to hug her child.

“I have to hug him,” Matias said before jumping into her son’s arms.

“I’m alive, and that’s all that matters. Apparently, it was fake,” her son Jayden Lopez said. “But this ain’t nothing to play with … Whoever you are, what you did, look what you caused. There was helicopters. People were scared. You got my momma crying and I don’t like that. I don’t like to see my momma cry.”

Matias said as a community, everyone has to do better.

“I don’t care if it’s even putting a number padlock for the back entrances so that teachers know who is going in and who is going out,” Matias said.

The call, LCSO said, was part of a national “swatting event” that targeted schools across the country.

All Lee County schools were checked and secured out of precaution, authorities said.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said all 67 schools in the district were checked out.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office tweeted they were investigating a call at around 1:30 p.m.

“The Lee County Sheriff’s Office received notification of a possible threat to @LeeSchools,” the sheriff’s office said in a tweet. “All resources have been allocated to checking our schools. Simultaneously, we received info that the reported threat may be part of a nationwide swatting event.”

Swatting is when someone makes a false call to authorities in order to draw a large police presence.

The call brought authorities to the school. Helicopters circled above as parents parked outside, waiting for word on their children. Parents cried, uncertain about what is happening.

One parent said she was made aware it was a prank, but she was still scared.

“It sickens me … I can’t believe it’s happening right now in our backyard. Right now, right here? I’m kinda in shock right now,” said Irma Reyes.

She said her son let her know he was OK.

Her message to whoever did this?

“I hope they catch him. This is not something that should be a prank. It’s not something you should play around with,” Reyes said.

As parents waited for news, students took cover inside, wondering if it was a real threat.

One student said there was a message on the board announcing the lockdown and then she and her classmates fled into a closet.

She said there is usually an announcement beforehand of a drill, but this time that didn’t come.

“It was really hard because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.

One grandfather said he rushed to the school and parked about half a mile away and sprinted.

“Just like every other parent that was up here, they would have rushed up here because they have no faith with what’s gone on in the past in Texas,” Ed Cavazos said, referring to Uvalde, where officers waited long to rush in and stop the carnage.

He said he called his grandson to ask if he heard gunfire.

“They need to be held accountable, big time,” Cavazos said.

The sheriff’s office said several schools were locked down and searched.

Parents are on high alert after schools were threatened during what authorities say was a national “swatting” event. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Special attention was drawn to South Fort Myers High School, the sheriff’s office said.

All lockdowns were lifted at around 1:43 p.m. Schools within Lee County’s jurisdictions were deemed safe, the sheriff’s office said.

Lee County school district spokesman Rob Spicker said the incident at the school was a false alarm, but authorities checked the school out of safety as a precaution. Other schools were locked down as a precaution, but the lockdowns were also lifted soon after.

Spicker said he wants parents to know that their students were safe.

“There is no current threat,” Spicker said. “There never was a threat. We certainly understand how upsetting this information is.”

But, Spicker said, authorities sprang into action and made sure everyone was OK.

“At the end of the day, this was just a hoax,” Spicker said.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said they saw an influx of calls from parents whose children attend Lee County schools.

They advised parents that no threat was found in Lee County. Calls from concerned parents inundated the emergency number and delayed help to real emergencies in Collier County, the sheriff’s office said.

The swatting calls were also reported across the country, in far-off locations like Kansas, Iowa and Missouri and in closer locations like Miami.

The FBI said its aware of “the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made.”

“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,” the FBI said.

One man said he hopes these things stop happening.

“It shouldn’t even be going on in the first place,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to be worrying about our brothers, sisters, our kids going to school every day. Now they stress over that every day, than learning.”

Parents are fed up and have drawn a line in the sand.

“Everyone is smiling right now but this ain’t really a smiling matter, you know what I mean this could’ve actually been bad,” one father said.

Law enforcement is working to trace the information to catch whoever is responsible for Friday’s events.

WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko said there are two priorities moving forward.

“They want to make sure this crime doesn’t occur again, but they want to make sure they collect the evidence in a way they can prosecute,” Kolko said.

According to Kolko, an arrest in the upcoming days is unlikely. Nevertheless, the FBI and law enforcement will try to catch whoever is responsible.

“They’re going to want to get all those calls from the different school districts, see if there are similarities, see if it was the same person. Then they’ll want to get the cyber trail, the digital trail that they create from those calls coming in and put that together real important clues as they begin their investigation,” Kolko said.