Reports of school shooters across Chicago area unfounded after investigations
CHICAGO - Nineteen counties across Illinois, from Chicago to Rockford to downstate, experienced fake school threats on Wednesday.
Chicago police responded to Whitney Young High School around 8 a.m. after there was a call to 911 saying an active shooter was in the building, officials said.
Officers cleared the school's campus, located at 211 S. Laflin St., and determined the report came from a prank caller.
Whitney Young Principal Rickey Harris released the following statement regarding Wednesday's incident:
"We have since been informed that prank calls have affected other schools in other cities around the country today, not just Whitney Young. At no point was there a safety threat to our school, and all of our students and staff are safe. Today's SAT testing has proceeded as scheduled.
I understand this situation may concern you, and I want to assure you that we are taking it extremely seriously to ensure the safety of our school community. If your child voices any fears about this situation, please let us know so we can connect them with a counselor or other social-emotional support. As a reminder, If you are ever made aware of a potential safety concern that involves our school, I ask that you please notify us immediately so we can properly respond to the concern. Thank you for your partnership. If you have any questions, please contact me directly."
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A similar disturbance happened at Rockford East High School on Wednesday morning when an active shooter was reported to be on campus.
The report was unfounded and students were dismissed early with classes to resume Thursday.
"This is something we take incredibly seriously," Rockford Public School Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett said. "Number one, because any time we test the safety response, that diverts resources away from our entire community and that is not okay. Number two, the trauma it causes to our parents and students and number three, we hate to see the academic day disrupted."
Freeport High School also reported getting a "prank phone call" on Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, FHS was part of a nationwide trend," the school district said in a statement. "The call indicated that there was a real emergency when in fact there was not. Just to be safe, the police walked the building with multiple squads responding."
State police encouraged residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior to police.
Cities in Illinois that reported prank calls today:
- Mount Vernon
- Granite City
Wednesday marked SAT testing day for Illinois juniors, but police have not said if that contributed to the hoaxes.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.