TV6 Investigates: 911 call shows how Clinton ‘swatting’ started

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - Authorities are still working to learn more about a cluster of “swatting” calls made to Iowa schools on Tuesday.

Dozens of schools in 24 Iowa communities were affected by these fake shooting reports Tuesday morning.

According to police, it started in Clinton around 8 a.m. and ended in Creston around 10:30 a.m.

TV6 Investigates obtained a copy of the 911 call in the Clinton incident through an open records request.

“Hello, there’s a shooting inside of the high school.” the caller said. “Shot another student in the bathroom at Clinton High School.”

In a quiet voice, the caller provided a phone number with an 808 area code out of Hawaii.

Dispatcher: “Sir, where in the high school are you?”

Caller: “I’m locked in the classroom”

Dispatcher: “You’re locked in which bathroom?”

Caller: “In the classroom, in the classroom. I’m locked in the other classroom.”

On Tuesday, more than 30 schools across Iowa received similar calls, prompting police to respond. Investigators call these incidents reporting a false shooting or threat, “swatting.”

Don Schnitker, Bureau Chief of the Governor’s School Safety Bureau within the Iowa Department of Public Safety said of the recordings reviewed so far, all seem to be from the same person or group — not a robot.

“I think there’s reason to believe that this would have been an actual caller,” Schnitker said. “In some of the instances, it’s that the tools and techniques that these individuals are using are ever-changing, that technology changes daily.”

According to DPS swatting at schools across the country is on the rise, but they haven’t noticed a frequency behind them. Tuesday’s incidents in Iowa are now part of the trend.

“Since the start of school, we’ve had clusters of the swatting calls in different states,” Schnitker said. “That’s what it appears oftentimes one state will get hit with several calls in one day.”

Although it may be too early to determine a motive, Schnitker said these kinds of calls are usually made to tie up emergency services.

“We can’t be certain what the caller’s intentions were,” Schnitker said. “It’s really just to disrupt our way of life and to cause that panic and fear.”

TV6 also requested recordings from the Muscatine and Davenport swatting calls.

The Muscatine County Attorney denied the request citing an active investigation.

In Scott County, because of the way the 911 call came into the Emergency Management Agency, they were not able to record it.

The FBI’s Omaha Field Office is assisting state and local authorities in the investigation.

A review of the incident is on the agenda for Monday’s Clinton County Board of Supervisors meeting.