Scene outside of Charlottesville High School yesterday. Photo credit: Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

In the latest sign of spreading social disorder, Virginia underwent a plague of school hoaxes yesterday. According to media reports, incidents included:

  • The Loudoun County sheriff’s office and Leesburg police were notified of acts of violence at Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County high schools. The reports were false.
  • In Arlington County, officers responded to a false report in a 911 call of a possible act of violence at Washington-Liberty High School.
  • The Culpeper County school system placed all schools on lockdown after a 911 caller reported an “active shooter.”
  • A 911 caller told the Charlottesville police that there was an active shooter at the Charlottesville High School. (Eleven days ago, Albemarle County police had responded to a threat to Western Albemarle High School made through social media.)
  • E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg was placed on lockdown after a 911 caller alerted authorities to someone potentially being inside the high school with a gun.

There’s nothing new about shooting and bomb hoaxes. What is new is the epidemic-like frequency with which they are occurring. Apparently, the practice of reporting violent incidents in school buildings has reached such a critical mass that it now has a name — swatting.

The callers are idiots — they’re easy to track down and bring to account. But it would be interesting to know why they do what they’re doing.

Are there recurring motives or patterns in behavior? Is social media creating a contagion effect?

The hoaxes are highly disruptive. The callers should be punished with the full force of the law. It is important to send the message that actions have consequences.

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20 responses to “Hoax Epidemic”

  1. Jim Loving Avatar

    Obviously knowing the why is important. And, are these related to one another – i.e. is there a coordination of activities, which of course means an actual conspiracy (vs an imgagined one), or, is it just numerous independent examples of general social breakdown (copycat actions?).

    I only read about this on BR (may have missed in traditional press). So, thanks JB, I think.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Hmmm, could the number hoaxes be correlated to the number of actual massacres, albeit with a lag? Yeah, probably. Still, better to find a fire alarm with no fire than a fully engulfed inferno.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Beyond Meat COO arrested for biting a man’s nose in scuffle… protein deficiency?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Finally! You wrote something actually funny.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        If it were your nose, you might not think so.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          perhaps an ear?

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears… I doth need a sandwich.

  4. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    Swatting is but the contemporary term for such hoaxes dating from bomb threats in the 1970s when bombs were in vogue. Reasons for the swatting behavior may never be successfully identified so long as some mindless prankster does it simply because it can be done. Perhaps when a death or serious injury occurs, the epidemic may cease. Prosecution of seaters will help.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Does that go for kidnapping refugees too? ‘Cause there’s been one death already.

    2. Deaths and injuries have already occurred as a result of “swatting”.

      Do a web search for “death by swatting” and you’ll find numerous incidents.

  5. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Shannon Watts the head of one of the anti self defense groups started the “swatting” movement. She claimed that if more gun owners and police were shot in confrontations with police it could result in firearms being banned completely. Democrats and antifa types have been active in using this method around the country.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    I remember years ago they could not track down the man phoning in endless bomb threats to Park View HIgh in Loudoun. They had a routine practice of evacuating to the football stadium. The calls were always made from a pay phone.

    You have to wonder why Virginia’s school enrollment numbers are still floundering. Loudoun is just crawling back to pre 2020 enrollment numbers. K to 5 grades are much smaller than in the past. Middle and high grades are lagging too. They just opened two new schools. Unchecked bomb threats are not helping.,new%20school%20year%2C%20down%20from%2084%2C175%20in%202019.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        I used a pay phone in Boston last week. Next to the USS Constitution. I called my mother. I had to know if it really worked. Buck and 75.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Hmmm, see two antiquities at once…

        2. how_it_works Avatar

          There’s a payphone in Leesylvania State Park. It doesn’t work, and from the looks of it, it hasn’t worked in years. If our state were on the ball maybe they’d replace it with a hot-line phone that dialed the ranger’s office.

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    What do you have there, 5 incidents? Oct incidents 4.8 on average 2012 to 2016. Uh yep, right on schedule.

    Now in addition, the ATF puts out a yearly report of explosive devices and the such, but doesn’t seem to string the data year to year. Just a quick perusal of 2019’s report showed actual devices number in the 10s of 1000s. Actual bangs are pretty small in comparison.

  8. “Swatting” (as in “send in the SWAT team”) is a general term to describe fraudulently reporting a violent incident so that police respond in force to a location where they are not needed. It is not limited only to schools.

  9. This isn’t “swatting”, it’s just a standard hoax. Swatting is typically aimed at a particular victim with a false report designed to create a potentially fatal encounter with police. It’s a form of attempted murder distinct from hoaxes with less violent aims.

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