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30 schools across Iowa received fake 'swatting' calls Tuesday, officials say

According to Iowa School Safety Bureau officials, 30 schools across the state were targeted, including ones in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and more.

IOWA, USA — Fake threats were called in at dozens of schools across Iowa Tuesday morning, according to state law enforcement and education officials.

That includes at least one Des Moines school. Police received a call about a shot student at Roosevelt High School around 9 a.m. 

DMPD and Des Moines Public Safety officers responded to the call before determining it was fake later that morning. 

The incident didn't impact classes at Roosevelt, since Tuesday was a professional development day for staff. 

But that wasn't the case for some schools in the state. 

According to officials with the Iowa School Safety Bureau, 30 schools across the state were targeted. The list includes Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City and many more.

In eastern Iowa, students at Clinton High School had to shelter in place while officers searched the building. Classes were then canceled for the rest of the day, WOI sister station WQAD reports

What is swatting?

"This is commonly what we call swatting. It is a phone call that is a hoax by design. The design of it is to create confusion and chaos," said Stephan Bayens, Iowa School Safety Bureau commissioner.

The intent of a swatting incident is usually to get an armed emergency response sent to a victim's location. 

Law enforcement said not knowing that the threats being reported are fake can make responding to them difficult.

"The problem that these hoax calls — the swatting calls — present, are that they stretch our resources, and people who need our services and need help from us in that moment, they aren't going to get it [until] we're done. That takes priority," said DMPD Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Officials say Iowa schools are safe

The School Safety Bureau doesn't believe there are any ongoing threats to any Iowa schools following the calls. 

However, they do believe this sudden string of swatting attempts happening so close together isn't a coincidence.

"There is similarities in all these phone calls. The nature of the voice is similar. Some of the other identifying characteristics are similar," Bayens said. "So, there's a reason to believe that the same entity or person is making all the phone calls."

A new app is now available to download to report any school safety issues anonymously. It's called Safe+Sound Iowa. More information about the app is available here.

Local 5 will update this story as more information becomes available. Download the We Are Iowa app or subscribe to Local 5's "5 Things to Know" email newsletter for the latest.  

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