BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — (UPDATED: 2/15 4:47 p.m.)
For the third day this week, schools across the Commonwealth have received threats over the phone, to which police departments are responding to and enacting lockdowns.
At the time of posting, schools in Norton, Lexington, Saugus, Salem, Gloucester, New Bedford, and Lowell, all had threats come in— but after police searches, those calls appear to be hoaxes. Wednesday's events come as a continuation of similar situations happening in other towns in cities across Massachusetts.
Massachusetts State Police tell WBZ NewsRadio that both Milton and Northampton had similar incidents, and are in the process of clearing schools there.
City and town officials are labeling these incidents as "swatting" calls, which are transmissions that are purposely crafted to make it appear like there's an ongoing crisis, when in reality, there's nothing of the sort occurring. Those responsible for swatting are committing a serious crime, Massachusetts state law dictates that those who are convicted of making false reports to police be punished for up to one year in jail for each count.
At the moment, it is uncertain if these threats are connected. The State Police's Commonwealth Fusion Center is investigating calls made earlier in the week. State police said in a statement that these types of threats are not unprecedented for the Commonwealth.
"We did see something like this a few years ago and at that time the suspicion was that they were originating overseas and the sources were using a sophisticated voice over IP network with multiple routers to conceal their true identity and spoof local numbers so the call appeared to be coming from the local area. It is possible, but not definitive, that this week’s threats are similarly sourced," a spokesperson for the MSP said.
WBZ NewsRadio reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who said that the agency is aware of the incidents and is working to identify the source of the hoax threats. Federal officials go on to say that it is important for police to use all available resources, regardless of whether the threat is legitimate. That being said, hoax threats interrupt classes, cause unnecessary fear and panic, and use up taxpayer money, the FBI says.
WBZ's Nichole Davis (@NicholeDWBZ) reports.