DANVERS – A report of an active shooter Monday at St. John’s Prep in Danvers turned out to be a scam, but the police response was “ramped up” when an officer responding to the incident accidentally fired their gun, authorities say. Classes have been canceled at the school on Tuesday for all students in grades 6 to 11.
No threat was found at the school of 1,450 students and no one was injured. But the terrifying incident and the sound of a gunshot made the students run from the building.
“During the search process, there was an accidental discharge of a firearm…which resulted in an increased response from area departments,” Danvers Police Chief James Lovell said.
The officer was responding to a report of a threat in the men’s room when the gun went off. No one else was in the bathroom when it happened, the police said.
“We believe St. John’s was the victim of a Swatting call,” the school informed parents Monday afternoon. “Everyone is safe, there have been no injuries and police are currently clearing campus buildings as we accommodate all students.”
The police are working to find out who made the spoof call. Incidents of “swatting” have spread across the country recently, including Massachusetts in recent weeks. More than a dozen Greater Boston schools went on lockdown in mid-February, prompted by the same — or very similar — recorded 911 hoax calls.
“This is everybody’s nightmare,” said headmaster Edward Hardiman. “My message to our students under the tent was that some of us will be fine, some of us will be really traumatized by what happened. It’s our responsibility to reach out to each other, to support each other, to care for each other .
The students remembered the scary moments.
“My teacher, good guy, immediately locked the door. He turned off the lights, he closed the curtains. Everyone immediately got up and moved our desks. We did exactly what we were told to do in a situation like this,” student Will Hayes said WBZ-TV.
For parents, it was a scary afternoon.
“Seeing sixth graders in terror like this is just not OK. We need protection for our schools,” said one woman.
“It’s never a good feeling when you get a phone call like that at work from your son who was frantically running through the woods,” added parent Bill Butler.
BC High in Dorchester also received a call Monday about an active shooter on campus, a school spokesman told WBZ-TV. The police quickly investigated the threat and found nothing. No students were on campus Monday and staff were away on a retreat.