A series of possible incidents — hoax calls reporting serious crimes designed to draw large emergency responders to a single location — closed high schools in at least a half-dozen New Jersey counties within a half-hour span Friday, law enforcement sources familiar with the matter said , indicating a possible targeted attack.
Toms River police tweeted that they received a call about a possible shooting at High School North around 11 a.m. and the school was placed on lockdown. Police confirmed they were investigating the incident as a possible case and said there was no active threat.
Around the same time, emergency correspondence showed more than a half-dozen schools in at least five counties received similar calls. All of the affected buildings are high schools, and they span the length of the state, from Hamilton High in Mercer County to East Brunswick High School in Middlesex, Barnegat High School in Ocean and Weequihaic in Newark.
Sussex and Monmouth counties reported similar calls. Emergency correspondence indicated that all the calls came in over about half an hour, starting at about 10 p.m. 10:45
Swatting involves a fake 911 call about a serial crime—in some cases, an active shooter—that forces a large-scale emergency response that directs police and other resources en masse. Similar incidents have been reported across the country in recent days, involving schools from California to Florida to South Carolina and other states.
Chopper 4 was over the scene at a high school in Newark, New Jersey, one of many affected by an apparent swatting attack across the state on Friday.
The police chief in Jackson, New Jersey, where a high school was also on lockdown Friday, said his department was alerted to the possible swab attack a week or so ago. He said: “Everyone appeared in a professional matter.”
Another law enforcement source said an email went out to several law firms advising the same. Details of the message, which the source said came from the state Department of Education, were not immediately clear. News 4 is reaching out to the department for comment.
No further details were immediately available.