GREAT FALLS — Numerous communities across Montana dealt with reports of 'active shooter' and/or bomb threats on Friday, December 9, 2022; fortunately, none of the threats were legitimate.
The Montana Department of Justice said that there has been no evidence of an active shooter and no actual threats found. The threatening calls were made to dispatchers in Billings, Colstrip, Forsyth, Manhattan, Miles City, Red Lodge, and Cascade and Madison counties.
“This is likely an orchestrated hoax tactic called swatting,” Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator Bryan Lockerby said. “We are assisting with the coordination of these incoming threats to further the investigation and identify the source of the calls.”
Here is a recap of some of the incidents:
- The 911 Dispatch Center in Great Falls received a call threatening an active shooter incident was in progress at Great Falls High School. Police said the information in the call was immediately investigated and dispelled.
- Gallatin County 911 received a report of an active shooter at the Manhattan Library next to the school. Units immediately responded and were on scene within minutes. The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office said that this appears to be a "swatting" incident, which is a false emergency report to law enforcement to garner a response.
- The Billings Police Department posted on Twitter: "Threat of a shooting at West High School. School went on lockdown. Caller appears to be out of state. Multiple Officers were already on scene and everything is OK."
- Big Sky High School in Missoula was briefly placed in lockdown status "in response to a 911 call." The school district said in a message to parents: "These threats have not been substantiated so far; however, MCPS is being extra cautious and vigilant today."
- The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office said: "You may be seeing an increased Law Enforcement presence at area schools City/County. At this time everything is OK. Multiple calls have been made to 911 across the State claiming an Active Shooter incident is taking place. Some schools are temporarily locked down as a precaution. All phone numbers are coming from out of state."
- From Great Falls Public Schools: "Several Great Falls Public Schools have received messages regarding bomb threats that are linked to a national hoax. Great Falls Police Department and other law enforcement entities believe there is no threat to our schools at this time. School Activities will continue as normal today."
- From the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office: "For transparency and informational purposes, we would like to inform the community that we did receive a 911 call this morning reporting an active shooter at the Forsyth High School. The caller then called back and reported a active shooter at the Colstrip High School. From our understanding, a similar incident happened in Miles City. At this time, this is nothing more than a false report, one that could have endangered the public."
Several other states had similar incidents, including South Dakota and Washington.
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