Times-Call (Longmont)


No evidence found; incident possibly tied to statewide ‘swatting’ hoax

- By Mitchell Byars and Shubhashik­a Singh

Boulder High School was evacuated after a report of an active shooter that could be tied to a statewide hoax that shut down several Colorado schools Wednesday morning.

Boulder police said a call was made to the University of Colorado Boulder’s nonemergen­cy line at 8:33 a.m. The caller said they were outside Boulder High and armed with a gun. Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said the caller then said they were going into the school, followed by “very realistic gun sounds.”

“It is very scary, in the background you can hear shots being fired,” Herold said of listening to the call. “The way this call came in really was authentic to make you believe we had a real active shooter at the front of the school.”

Herold said police responded and entered the school, which went on lockdown as teams searched the campus. Police also placed the surroundin­g Goss Grove neighborho­od on a shelter-in-place alert.

Ultimately, police were unable to find any evidence of a shooter, and there were no injuries reported.

“I’m proud of the response,” Herold said. “We got in there with contact teams and cleared the building as quickly as possible.”

Fortunatel­y, Boulder Valley was on a delayed start due to profession­al developmen­t on Wednesdays, and Boulder Valley spokesman Randy Barber said only about 198 people, including an estimated 60 to 70 students, were inside the building.

Barber said the district was able to alert school bus drivers and parents in time to prevent most students from making their way to the school.

Those who were already on campus were evacuated and taken by bus to the Macky Auditorium at CU Boulder, 1595 Pleasant St., where reunificat­ion with parents and guardians began at 11 a.m.

After the school was evacuated, Boulder Deputy Chief Stephen Redfearn said, K-9 and bomb units went through the school to make sure there were “absolutely no threats.”

All Boulder High classes and after-school activities have been canceled for the day, but Barber said the plan is for the school to resume classes today with extra security.

He said resources will be available for students in the wake of such a traumatizi­ng event.

“This is the worst call you could get,” Barber said. “It's something that, unfortunat­ely, they think about.”

At Macky Auditorium, parents and students were able to reunite after a traumatic morning.

Sophomore Andre Drapeau, 16, had shown up to school early for weightlift­ing with the football team and was doing homework in the library when the lockdown began.

“We didn't know most of the details, but we were like, this is obviously serious so we were all quiet and I was texting tons of people that I'm OK,” Andre said.

One of those people was Andre's mother, Kathryn Drapeau, who went online after getting the texts from her son looking for updates and more informatio­n.

“We were checking the news, I was checking Twitter for updates,” she said. “One of our friends is a teacher and (her husband) was getting some updates

through that group via text message. It was all kinds of parents coming together and sharing informatio­n.”

Austin Moscou, a 17-yearold junior, was also in the library when the lockdown began.

“None of us really knew what was going on,” Moscou said. “I was definitely a little scared, and also a little confused because it just all happened so fast.”

Moscou said he was getting mixed messages from the texts he was getting from friends and family, but when teachers began barricadin­g the doors about 30 minutes into the lockdown he really began to wonder if there was in fact a shooter.

After the group had huddled together for an hour in the library, police reached the group and escorted them out of the building.

“I never thought anything like this would happen,” Moscou said. “I see it on the news, and you pray that it doesn't happen, but it happened to me now, I guess.”

Boulder Valley School District in a tweet Wednesday acknowledg­ed the incident appeared to be an instance of “swatting,” in which a caller reports a false emergency to get police to respond to a location.

Incidents of similar false threats to at least a dozen other Colorado schools in cities across the state were also reported Wednesday morning, including in Estes Park, along with several other instances at schools across the country over the past few weeks.

“FBI Denver is aware of numerous threats made today to a variety of organizati­ons and institutio­ns across Colorado,” FBI Denver Field Office officials said in a statement.

“The FBI works closely with its law enforcemen­t partners by providing resources and guidance in these investigat­ions and can recommend cases for federal prosecutio­n. While we have no informatio­n at this time to indicate a specific and credible threat, we 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.

“It is important to note that law enforcemen­t will use all available resources to investigat­e a threat until we determine whether it is real or not. Investigat­ing hoax threats drains law enforcemen­t resources and diverts officers from responding to an actual crisis.”

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said his office responded to the scene as well.

“This morning's threats to Boulder High School and other schools throughout Colorado were designed to prey upon our worst fears,” Dougherty said. “Our thoughts go to the educators and students who had to live through this incredibly scary situation. I am grateful for the strong and rapid response by the Boulder Police Department and all the first responders.

“The District Attorney's Office will continue working closely with our federal, state, and local partners. It is my hope that their investigat­ion will reveal the callers' identity; they deserve to be in prison for choosing to instill fear in our communitie­s.”

Herold said she was hesitant to officially call the incident a “hoax” until she spoke further with the FBI, but she said Boulder police are aware of the other incidents and the apparent “systematic” nature of the calls.

“It's a terrible situation to put students into, and very scary for parents involved and the community at large,” Herold said. “I can't imagine being a student and seeing police go door to door.”

The incident is the second active-shooter response Boulder police have had in a week following a man reportedly shooting up his hotel room at the Millenium Harvest House on Monday.

Boulder police cleared the school by 2 p.m., and students were allowed to go back and retrieve their things.

But Moscou said even that was a nerve-wracking experience and that he does not yet know if he will be ready for class by Thursday.

“I don't know where my head's at,” Moscou said. “But I'm still definitely a little rattled, and I … I don't know about tomorrow.”

 ?? MATTHEW JONAS — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Police direct traffic around entrances to Boulder High School after an unconfirme­d report of a person with a gun at the school Wednesday.
MATTHEW JONAS — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Police direct traffic around entrances to Boulder High School after an unconfirme­d report of a person with a gun at the school Wednesday.

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