Several ‘Prank' Calls Reported About Shootings at Illinois Schools, Sparking Police Response

Rockford East High School classes were canceled, SATs were rescheduled and students were dismissed following what police said was a "false" shooting report, with similar calls reported at at least three other Illinois schools around the same time

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Police responded to multiple schools across Illinois Wednesday for reports of shootings that authorities said turned out to be false reports.

According to Illinois State Police, authorities in at least 19 communities across the state received "threats directed towards schools."

"Responders have not located any actual threats as a result of these calls," ISP said in a statement. "The Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center currently has no information concerning credible threats related to school safety. Law enforcement, public safety, and private sector security officials are encouraged to remain vigilant and report all suspicious behavior to local police agencies."

Rockford East High School classes were canceled, SATs were rescheduled and students were dismissed following what police said was a "false" shooting report, with similar calls reported at other Illinois schools around the same time.

"This is not the only report received within the state today that was a swatting call," Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said during a press conference. "We had two other districts within the state that were also victims of swatting calls and those calls were cleared as well."

The calls are believed to be a part of what one district called a "nationwide trend."

In Freeport, Illinois, District 145 said its high school "was part of a nationwide trend of what we believe to be a prank phone call today."

"The call indicated that there was a real emergency when in fact there was not. Just to be safe, the police walked the building with multiple squads responding. We are grateful for their quick response," the district said in a statement. "We were also notified by police that other area districts have received the same prank phone call this morning. While we are relieved that there was no real incident, we are not taking this lightly."

The false report in Rockford led to a heavy police presence surrounding and inside Rockford East High School as authorities said they took the call "very seriously."

Just before 10 a.m., Rockford East High School Principal Jim Parker alerted families that "students & staff are safe and accounted for," calling it a "best-case scenario during what could be the worst day of our lives."

Students were being dismissed for the day and classes were canceled, with plans to resume on Thursday. Counselors, social workers and psychologists were also being made available for those who need them.

The school noted that juniors were expected to take the SAT Wednesday, which is now being rescheduled for April 25.

"We’re working with Rockford Police as they continue to investigate," Parker said. "We are grateful for the quick response from Rockford Police and the cooperation from our students and staff. Again, this is the best-case scenario of a terrible situation."

Around the same time, Chicago police responded to Whitney Young High School for a shooting report. Chicago Public Schools confirmed that report was also false.

"This morning, we were made aware that a call was made to 911 alleging there was an active shooter inside our school building," Principal Rickey Harris wrote in a letter to parents. "We immediately engaged the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to investigate this situation and the CPS Office of Safety and Security was also notified. CPD immediately responded and it was confirmed that the call was made as a prank.  We have since been informed that prank calls have affected other schools in other cities around the country today, not just Whitney Young. At no point was there a safety threat to our school, and all of our students and staff are safe. Today's SAT testing has proceeded as scheduled."

Carbondale police said Carbondale High School was locked down for a report of a possible active shooter, but officers "upon arrival found there are no issues."

District 165 said the lockdown was lifted at 10:30 a.m. and the building "has been cleared and is safe." More details were expected to be released Wednesday.

The full list of areas reporting such calls as of 3 p.m. Wednesday included:

Champaign, Champaign County
Chicago, Cook County
Aurora, DuPage County
Carbondale, Jackson County
Murphysboro, Jackson County
Mount Vernon, Jefferson County
Vienna, Johnson County
Dixon, Lee County
Decatur, Macon County
Granite City, Madison County
Collinsville, Madison County
Centralia Marion County
Bloomington, McLean County
Jacksonville, Morgan County
Peoria, Peoria County
Pittsfield, Pike County
Eldorado, Saline County
Springfield, Sangamon County
Freeport, Stephenson County
Marion, Williamson County
Rockford, Winnebago County

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