Lourdes High School report of an active shooting was 'swatting' incident, police say
Both Lourdes High School and Mayo High School went into lockdown Wednesday morning, with reports of an active shooter. The Lourdes call was determined to be a hoax "swatting" incident, and the report at Mayo was determined to be a law enforcement official responding to the Lourdes call.
ROCHESTER — Lourdes High School went into lockdown Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, following a report of an active shooter and injured children.
Similar calls went out throughout the state and nationwide Wednesday, according to Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, who spoke with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which called this type of "swatting" call "despicable."
No injuries or active shooters were found in any of the area schools.
A call for a person with a rifle at Lourdes High School in Northwest Rochester was reported at 10:06 a.m., Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said during a Wednesday morning press conference at the school.
According to police spokesperson Amanda Grayson, officers arrived on scene less than four minutes from when the call was made, and gave the all-clear in about 30 minutes.
Most of the students at Lourdes were in an auditorium when the call came in, and were minimally aware of the situation, according to Rochester Catholic Schools President Annemarie Vega. Students were preparing to resume school Wednesday, though some could be seen leaving the parking lot.
Swatting calls aren't a new thing, according to Franklin, who said he was proud of the quick response from his department and other first responders.
Law enforcement learned that the call came from an internet-based phone number, and the incident is under investigation.
In a statement on social media, the BCA wrote:
"We are aware of multiple swatting incidents involving active shooter events or mass casualties at schools across Minnesota. Local law enforcement are responding. No incidents have turned out to be real.
"Our Minnesota Fusion Center is tracking these reports and keeping local law enforcement apprised of the situation."
The BCA asked that students and community members notify law enforcement and school resource officers of suspected threats to schools.
Byron, Pine Island and Stewartville schools were put in lockdown in response to the Lourdes call.
Mayo High School was also in lockdown, following a report by a student to school officials that a person with a gun was in the parking lot, according to a statement from Rochester Public Schools.
"We have confirmed that the vehicle and person observed by the student was a law enforcement officer responding to Lourdes who briefly stopped near Mayo High School," the statement read, in part. "We are extremely pleased with the student who reported the situation to building leaders. We are all safer when individuals say something when they see something."
Multiple students inside Mayo High School reported the lockdown, citing the presence of law enforcement and ambulances. One student said the blinds of the windows were closed. Another report indicated there was a SWAT team on the premises.
The lockdown was lifted around 11:30 a.m.
Around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, the Austin Police Department received a similar call of an active shooter at Austin High School, according to Austin Police Chief David McKichan.
APD and the Mower County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the school and found that no incident had occurred.
"The safety of Austin's students and school staff is our utmost priority. It is unfortunate that during a week dedicated to homecoming festivities in Austin that this occurred," McKichan wrote in an email. "We do believe this may be linked to other similar incidents in our State today and that our caller was likely not from our community."
More law enforcement resources are being dedicated to Austin and Rochester schools this week in response to these calls.