Calls Wednesday about active shooters at schools in York, Chester, and Lancaster counties were hoaxes that are part of phony threats across South Carolina and the country linked to a TikTok challenge, sheriff officials said.
The threats at one school in York County and others in Chester and Lancaster counties are fabrications, sheriff officials said in statements to the public around noon Wednesday.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said the shooting claims are hoaxes and law enforcement is investigating.
The claims are described as “swatting” where fake calls try to push a police response to a fake call, Tolson said.
“We are closely monitoring a state-wide hoax of prank calls about shootings incidents at local schools,” Tolson said in a statement. “The prank calls are an attempt to entice a large police response to disrupt school activities.”
Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey and Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile also issued statements that said fake calls at schools were received and are believed to be part of a South Carolina and national hoax pointed at schools and police.
Similar calls were received at schools throughout South Carolina, including in Columbia, Greenville, Hilton Head and other areas, The State newspaper reported.
The calls are from a TikTok challenge, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told The State.
The State Law Enforcement Division stated that while the reports seem to be phony, law enforcement is investigating.
“While at this time the threats are believed to be a hoax, SLED encourages each jurisdiction to take any and all threats seriously,” SLED said in a statement.
The FBI South Carolina office said in a statement agents are aware of the threats. Federal law enforcement has no information that any of the threats are legitimate, said Kevin Wheeler, spokesman for the FBI in South Carolina.
“The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made,” Wheeler said. “Similar incidents have occurred recently across the country. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”
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