Authorities Continue to Investigate Hoax Active Shooter Calls Across Mass as Part of Nationwide Issue


All last week, schools across the State including Amesbury, Boston, Chelmsford, Clinton, Concord, North Attleboro, Saugus, Dedham, Duxbury, Edgartown, Fall River, Lexington, Milton, Fitchburg, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Lowell, Gloucester, Harwich, Haverhill, Hingham, Ipswich, Springfield, Westfield and more were all forced into emergency lockdowns after receiving threats related to active shooters, armed individuals or explosives. Other schools within these cities also went into secure or safe mode as a proactive and precautionary measure.

This is not unusual or unique to Massachusetts sadly, with this pattern of terroristic behavior becoming a common issue that the FBI is trying to keep up with. Federal authorities continue to investigate a similar string of incidents including Texas in September, New Hampshire in December, earlier this month in Michigan and even Colorado just yesterday.

In a report by NPR, their staff found that out of nearly 200 calls to over 28 different states that they studied, the culprit of these dangerous and scary hoaxes may actually be the same person. This is because of how easy it is to place these calls anonymously using apps and internet.


FBI Special Agent David Porter said the FBI is working in coordination with several other local and state law enforcement agencies in communities affected by the hoax calls.

“It’s not a joke and, unfortunately, we live in an era where we see what happens when this is real,” Porter said “The drills aren’t a joke. The responses aren’t a joke. The resources that are spent on something like this aren’t a joke. When you make false reports like this, it’s dangerous and it’s a crime.”

As for Amesbury, Police Chief Craig Bailey stated that he was happy about the immediate response time of local authorities, as they were at Amesbury High School in about 10 minutes after receiving the first hoax call. With multiple other agencies also assisting, officers were able to clear the building and area in a timely and swift manner.

Local Police departments within the cities that experienced these hoax calls, could not find any credibility to the threats which they responded to and investigated at each of different school locations. There was no evidence of reliable fact, no surveillance corroborating the 911 callers claims. Or even reports of gunfire in the area.


Throughout the week it was made very clear by authorities and more specifically, FBI Boston Division spokesperson Kristen Setera, “Law enforcement is going to use all available resources to investigate a school threat until we determine whether it is real or not. Investigating hoax threats drains law enforcement resources and diverts us from responding to an actual crisis. Hoax threats can shut down schools, cause undue stress and fear to the public, and cost taxpayers a lot of money. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

Even though it has been stated by other police departments around Massachusetts that this use of authoritative resources is a waste of time and money, Cohasset police Lt. Mike Lopes has a different opinion. Lopes states that their department has a plan when it comes to school threats, and they will always follow that plan. He doesn’t consider it a waste of time, because it is never okay to assume if it is a hoax call or not. They say they will treat every call as a real one, keeping them on top of their response and use the opportunity as a training for better action in the future.

The Massachusetts State Police are also now involved, both at the local level, assisting authorities with responses to these hoax calls but also in the Fusion Center, a intelligence center that acts as the the principal state repository for threat-related information, including criminal activity, threats to public safety, and terrorist activity.


Between 10 AM and noon on Tuesday, three shooting/bomb threats were received by schools in Springfield, Great Barrington, and Greenfield. Shortly after that, there was another one at 10:15 AM and it was also a shooting/bomb threat that was received by a school in Clinton. Then between 10:45 AM and 11:45 AM shooting/bomb threats were received at schools in Duxbury, Edgartown, Harwich, and Fall River.

“The male caller states that he is armed with an ‘AR-15’ and ‘pipe bombs’ in a backpack. The call ends with the sound of gunfire,” Massachusetts State Police Fusion Center said in a statement.

All the threats received state wide were consistent in content. State Police patrols, K9 teams, and the Bomb Squad responded to all of the above locations along with local police departments. Every school was cleared and the threats determined to be hoax calls. All incidents were reported to the State Police Commonwealth Fusion Center.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said it is working with law enforcement. “DESE continues to collaborate with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to ensure that all threats are evaluated and to maintain safety in schools and their communities.