HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating after schools across Horry County and South Carolina were locked down Wednesday morning amid phony calls to numerous districts about reporting an active shooter, authorities said.
The so-called swatting calls prompted a large police response to Conway High School, Myrtle Beach High School, Myrtle Beach Middle School, along with Wilson High School in Florence and schools in the Beaufort, Charleston and Columbia areas.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said investigators believe the calls may be coming from another country.
“SLED is evaluating the credibility of these threats,” the department said in a news release. “While at this time the threats are believed to be a hoax, SLED encourages each jurisdiction to take any and all threats seriously. SLED is actively working with our state and federal law enforcement partners. If you have any information about these threats, please call local law enforcement.”
Authorities reported no injuries in any of the incidents, but some parents at Myrtle Beach Middle School took their children out of school for the day after the incident, saying they were not going to take any chances.
Lisa Bourcier, a spokesperson for Horry County Schools, said the incidents appear to have been a prank and that all students were safe.
“We have fallen victim to what is believed to be swatting (making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of first responders) calls regarding incidents at various schools, which include Myrtle Beach High, Myrtle Beach Middle, and Conway High, to date,” Bourcier said in an email. “Police are currently on the campuses of these schools, and I can assure you that all students and staff are safe. Police will remain on campus and continue to investigate the situation.”
Districts in Beaufort and Charleson appear to have received similar calls, Bourcier said.
“It appears the swatting prank is happening throughout other school districts in our state,” including Charleston and Beaufort,” she said.
Law-enforcement personnel began responding at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to calls about a shooting at Myrtle Beach Middle School that proved to be a hoax, Myrtle Beach Police Master Cpl. Tom Vest said. Other schools got similar calls at about the same time, officials said.
Vest said schools did go on lockdown while authorities checked to make sure everything was OK. Officers remained on the campuses late Wednesday morning.
In Florence, Police Capt. Mike Brandt said officers with his department and the Florence County Sheriff’s Office were called to what turned out to be an unfounded threat at Wilson High School.
He said police are not sure whether the incidents are connected to others across the state but that they are communicating with other agencies to get more information.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said he’s “disgusted” by the school threats.
“Active shooter situations are taken extremely serious by law enforcement,” Wilson said in a statement. “False claims aren’t a joke and prosecutors across the state will not treat them as jokes.”
The FBI also said it is aware of the threats and is working with local agencies regarding the threats, and said it has no information that would indicated a credible threat.
This is a developing story. Count on News13 for updates on air and online.