Numerous school districts across our coverage area became victim of “swatting” calls Wednesday causing a large response from multiple emergency responders.
An official from the Cambria County Emergency Services says this was the first time many emergency officials responded to a “swatting” call and although he hopes this doesn’t happen again he says they are prepared if it does.
“We went into our mode, dispatching E.M.S, police, emergency resources as necessary and to get entail on the scene as quickly as possible, We had a call, approximately 9:35 yesterday originating from what appeared to be California saying that there had been individuals who had been shot inside Bishop Carroll high school.”
Martynuska says they immediately sent emergency officials to the scene as it was difficult to understand the call because it was made by someone with a thick accent.
“We’ll, we always have to take these things on face value. So, you know, if we have a threat like this were going to response accordingly. The last thing we want to do is not respond or respond inadequate amount resources and then well be caught short, We had several police departments from the area. Obviously, Ebensburg, Cambria Township, Ebensburg E.M.S responded, and State Police also responded.”
When officials arrived, Martynuska says they surveilled the scene and used all tactics to ensure the scene was clear.
“It was pretty quickly determined this was a swatting call as it’s being called. We had been advised earlier in the week these were going on across country and we found out afterwards that some other areas around us had been hit by this type of fraud as well,”
And besides Bishop Carroll Catholic high school, other schools from Cambria County all the way to Centre County got similar “swatting” calls causing many schools to be put on lockdown, such as the Altoona Area high school.
“Overall, the work of all of law enforcement in Blair County together. You had agencies from all surrounding areas to assist, Our number one priority is eliminating a threat and fortunately there wasn’t a threat today, but if there was I feel that we were well equipped and well prepared and got in here as fast as we possibly could to save lives and that’s our main goal.”
“One thing that I always say for all these types of things is, people need to have a situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, know where to go if something does deescalate and where to go, you know, in time of emergency.”
According to the F.B.I – “swatting” is a prank designed to draw a law enforcement response and there are consequences for those found guilty of making calls like this.