Swatter(s) Target Westwood High School, Multiple Schools in Local Area and State
Westwood High School was the target of a hoax known as "swatting," when Westwood Police received a phone call on Tuesday morning, March 28, 2023, reporting an active shooting taking place on campus, which was untrue.
Superintendent Emily Parks informed Westwood Public Schools families by email around 9:44 a.m. of the incident from earlier that same morning. She reported that police determined that “the building is clear.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, swatting is harassment where the perpetrator deceives an emergency service provider into sending an emergency response team to an address, by falsely reporting that a serious emergency exists.
At least 28 swatting calls were received by Massachusetts State Police as of midday on Tuesday, resulting in lockdowns at multiple schools, reported MassLive. No real threats have been detected.
- Austin Preparatory School in Reading
- Central High School in Springfield
- Drury High School in North Adams
- Foxborough High School
- Framingham High School
- Franklin High School
- Haverhill High School
- Malden Catholic High School
- Mansfield High School
- Medway High School
- Milford High School
- Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barringham
- Northampton High School
- North High School in Worcester
- Pittsfield High school
- Westwood High School
- Unspecified schools in Greenfield, Palmer, Stoughton, Bellingham, and Taunton
In Superintendent Parks’s email to the Westwood school community, she noted, “Over the last several weeks, there have been numerous reports of schools in Massachusetts receiving internet-based phone calls with these threats, all of which have been unsubstantiated.”
While today's calls and earlier calls did not represent reality, swatting is a crime. Intentionally or knowingly making a false report to police is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to a year, under Massachusetts law. Under federal law, false and misleading statements could lead to fines and imprisonment up to a life term.
Superintendent Parks wrote, “We understand the anxiety a situation like this can cause for our families, students, staff, and community. Please know that our top priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We take any and all reports of potential threats seriously, and we are making every effort to maintain an environment where students and staff feel safe.”
The superintendent encouraged the community to report anything that could threaten school safety. She noted that the school district works closely with local law enforcement in such situations.