ILLINOIS (WGN/WCIA) – Many schools around Illinois were disrupted by threats Wednesday, including one in Champaign.
Champaign Police Lieutenant Ben Newell said the department received a report of a shooting in progress at Central High School just before 9 a.m. Following protocol, officers immediately contacted school officials in the building and received confirmed that no such event was happening. A walkthrough of the school by officers and security officials also confirmed this.
Newell said the investigation is ongoing and no additional information was available.
The incident in Champaign is just one of more than a dozen false alarms and threats toward schools that were reported to police across the state on Wednesday. A spokesperson from Illinois State Police told WCIA sister station FOX 2 in St. Louis this morning that at least 12 communities received threats directed toward their schools. To this point, all threats have been unfounded.
“Responders have not located any actual threats as a result of these calls,” Illinois State Police said in a statement to FOX 2. “The Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center currently has no information concerning credible threats related to school safety. Law enforcement, public safety, and private sector security officials are encouraged to remain vigilant and report all suspicious behavior to local police agencies.”
Several reports of threats and swatting are also being investigated at Illinois schools in Chicagoland and the Rockford area Wednesday morning, according to Nexstar affiliate WTVO. Schools in the St. Louis and southern Illinois areas also received threats and instances of swatting the same day.
Around 10 a.m., a heavy police presence and a SWAT team responded to Granite City High School. A statement from Granite City Community Unit School District #9 says that they were alerted to a possible threat and took immediate action to make sure students were safe.
Administrators, police and parents learned about a series of false threats in Granite City, and no injuries were reported, according to a statement from the school district.
In Mt. Vernon, Ill., police shared a Facebook update about a prank at a high school. A call was made about a possible armed person in Mt. Vernon High School, and police were called to secure the school as a precaution. They also noted that there are several fake calls to high schools about threats across the state.
The cause of the rise in threats or the source is not yet clear. Students around the St. Louis area have faced criminal charges for similar threats made in the past.
This afternoon, several Dunlap, Ill. was the latest communities to receive threats. Several schools went on a soft lockdown after a report of a gun near the school. Deputies arrived in the area and found the boys in a wooded area and were carrying AirSoft guns which are not firearms, the sheriff said. The lockdown was lifted after the deputies determined there was no risk.
In addition to the threats today, this past weekend, University of Illinois Police said a 911 call was placed at 9 p.m. on Saturday by someone claiming an active shooter was on the university’s South Quad. Officers arrived there less than 60 seconds later; they found no evidence of an active or recent shooting incident.
Additionally, last fall Urbana Police Detectives arrested a 15-year-old female identified as one of the offenders in the terrorist threats against Urbana High School in November. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said the 15-year-old from Chicago is facing a Class 4 felony for disorderly conduct for calling in threats last November.
A Taylorville teenager was also taken into custody in November for writing a fake note, claiming there was an active shooter in the building. Similar incidents occurred at other area schools in November as well. Pana High School was placed on lockdown for a similar threat, and North Mac High School was also briefly locked down as well. After police searches, no threats were found at either school and both schools resumed regular school activities.