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Delaware schools go into lockdown after false mass shooter threats

Colonial School District

School districts across Delaware received false active shooter threats on Thursday morning, forcing some schools to go on lockdown and others to implement tighter security controls.

Harrington police received a call warning of an active shooter outside Lake Forest South Elementary School at around 9:30 on Thursday morning. Lake Forest School District Human Resources Director Travis Moorman says the district immediately implemented a lockdown at both the elementary school and the adjacent W.T. Chipman Middle School.

“Because they were located on the same campus, we went ahead and initiated a lockdown on that campus," he said. "It was about 10-15 minutes until we decided to order low-level lockdowns across the entire district.”

At roughly the same time, at least four other districts – including Colonial School District, Cape Henlopen School District and Capital School District – received similar threats and likewise began lockdowns. Nearby districts that didn’t receive threats also implemented heightened security measures.

The Delaware State Police have taken charge of coordinating an investigation of the incidents, which they describe as a state-wide “swatting” attempt meant to draw large police responses.

But New Castle City Police Captain Tina Schughart, whose department received the threat directed at Colonial School District, says that after a series of high-profile mass shootings in schools, even a hoax is enough to set a community on edge.

“Because of all the other situations that have happened in the last few years, it brings out an immense fear in parents," she said.

School districts in Colorado, Idaho and elsewhere have also recently seen spates of false active shooter threats.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.