SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 22, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Multiple schools in the Granite and Salt Lake City districts went into shelter-in-place or lockout mode Tuesday morning after several schools reported receiving a call about a man threatening to shoot his daughter.
As of 2 p.m., some schools were still on lockout as authorities tried to track down details. Unified Police Department’s Sgt. Melody Gray told Gephardt Daily.
An early suspect who police believed they had identified using phone-tracking technology turned out to have no connection to the case, Gray said.
“We have no name. We have no suspect. We have no vehicle,” she said, adding that it was entirely possible that the unnamed caller — who claimed to be in a custody battle with his unnamed child’s mother — was someone who made up the entire story as a prank.
Regardless, the shelter-in-place order was ongoing at multiple schools in Millcreek, Cottonwood Heights, Gray said, because it had not yet been determined that the calls were a hoax, and the safety of children was at stake.
The practice of calling police departments with false reports to mobilize large numbers of officers is called “swatting,” Gray said.
“The amount of resources it eats up is huge,” she said.
Schools involved in the Granite School District include William Penn Elementary, Rosecrest Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, Mill Creek Elementary, Churchill Junior High and Evergreen Junior High.
“It is a precautionary measure, with police activity in the neighborhood,” the Granite School District said in a Facebook post.
“There is no direct threat to the schools. School is proceeding as normal inside of the schools, but visitors will not be allowed on the campus until the protocol has been lifted.”
In the Salt Lake City School District, schools placed on shelter in place or lockdown reportedly included Wasatch Elementary, Ensign Elementary and Liberty Elementary.
“As a reminder, lockout means all students are brought into the school and exterior doors are locked,” the Salt Lake City School District said on Facebook at about 1 p.m. “No one is allowed in or out of the building, but school continues as normal inside.”
Schools were expected to release students as normal at the end of the school day.
A Salt Lake City Police Department release, issued at about 2 p.m., said the following:
“Salt Lake Police and other agencies in the valley have received numerous calls today from daycare/preschool locations receiving threats. A male caller is calling schools stating he is in the parking lot and threatening violence on the school.
“SLCPD is actively responding to the various reports as the calls have continued today, as are other agencies. SLCPD does not have any information at this time that would make us think these threats are credible, but we will continue to respond to any threats, real or otherwise, of harm to children and schools in our community.”