Hoax active shooter calls prompt heavy police response at Pittsburgh area schools

PITTSBURGH — Law enforcement responded Wednesday to active shooter hoaxes at multiple school districts in several different counties in the Pittsburgh area.

PHOTOS: Massive police response at Central Catholic, Oakland Catholic high school after false reports of active shooter

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Pennsylvania State Police said they are investigating phone calls made to several schools in different counties involving threats of an active shooter situation or bomb threat. They said all calls had similar content and were determined to be false.

These hoaxes prompted schools across Western Pennsylvania to be put on lockdown as a precautionary measure.

Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus told Channel 11 that there were no injuries and no evidence of any shootings at local schools.

There was a massive police response at both Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic high schools in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, but Pittsburgh police said both schools have since been cleared and declared safe.

Other schools in our area that received these fake threats include Laurel Highlands High School, Hopewell High School, New Castle High School and Farrell Area High School.


UPDATE 7 p.m.:

Hopewell School District will operate on a two-hour delay on Thursday.

UPDATE 5:10 p.m.

Michelle Peduto, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, released a statement, saying:

“As this state-wide threat hit our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh today, we want to express our deep and sincere gratitude to Pittsburgh police, and all emergency teams who were quick and caring in their response at Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic High Schools.

Everyone at our schools is safe. We are proud of how our school administrations, staffs, and students worked together, and in full cooperation with law enforcement, as the threats were being investigated.

We recognize how extremely difficult it is for parents, students, and staffs to face these challenging circumstances. We are grateful for their patience and support. Central and Oakland Catholic High Schools will both be starting their Easter breaks early. Emotional support has been offered to students and staff.

Moving forward, we must work together as a community to try to prevent school threats and tragedies. We will continue to do all we can to protect our schools through providing preparedness training, school safety audits, and working with law enforcement to enhance security measures.

Let us pray that we will care for, and about each other, as children of God. In doing so, our schools will be safer, and our children will be better for it. We will be better for it, too.”

UPDATE 4:40 p.m.

Central Catholic will not return to school Thursday or Friday. Easter break will begin March 30. Students can retrieve their belongings Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

UPDATE 4:05 p.m.

Oakland Catholic won’t return to school Thursday or Friday. Counseling will be available at the school from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

UPDATE 12:48 p.m.

All Pittsburgh Public Schools are on a modified lockdown for the rest of the day out of an abundance of caution.

Today, there were reports of an active shooter in Oakland. Law enforcement reports that these claims are false. Out of...

Posted by Pittsburgh Public Schools on Wednesday, March 29, 2023

UPDATE 12:39 p.m.:

Hopewell Area School District Superintendent Jeff Beltz provided updated information regarding the fake active shooter directed toward the high school earlier:

“We had a phone call this morning sent directly to Aliquippa Police Dept. stating that there was an active shooter at Hopewell HS. The caller stated that they were locked down in a bathroom, and there were victims. All law enforcement and EMS were dispatched to the HS. A lockdown was initiated. The HS was searched and cleared, and it has been determined that there are no victims and no incident had occurred.

“The HS students are being moved to the Hopewell Shopping Center to be bussed home immediately, and all HS drivers will be allowed to return to the HS to pick up the cars and drive home.

“All schools are currently in lockdown. Buses will take the HS students home and return to the Hopewell Shopping Center plaza to pick up the Junior High School students for dismissal. It is expected that the JHS will be on buses departing the plaza at 1:15-1:30pm and will return students home at that time. For families wanting to pick up their JHS child, all students will be moved to the shopping plaza. Please stay in your car and be positioned in the fire lane heading from Empire Palace restaurant towards Kuhns with passenger doors on curb side. Kuhns will be the front of the pickup line.

“All elementary schools will depart school on regular buses at the regular dismissal time for childcare purposes. Elementary families will be able to pick up students if they desire to do so upon reading this notification. However, buses will operate as under regular conditions for elementary only.”

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.:

Pittsburgh police gave an update regarding the fake active shooter threats made at both Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic high schools.

The call came in at 10:18 a.m. for an active shooter with multiple injuries at Central Catholic. Within a minute, they got another call that there was no shooter, but they responded as a precaution. Police said the first order was clearing out the building. Students were locked in place during this time.

At the same time as the Central Catholic threat, Police said a report came in for an active shooter at Oakland Catholic. They cleared that building too, and said there is “no indication that there ever was an active shooter and no injuries.”

After both schools were declared safe, police worked with the school administration to reunite students with their families. Police said they checked every single room in both schools to deem it was safe.

Zone 4 police initiated the investigation and said they’ll be working with Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI to track the source of the call.

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.:

Pennsylvania State Police said they are investigating threats made to several schools across the state:

“The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is investigating a series of phone calls made to 911 centers about schools across the Commonwealth involving threats of an active shooter situation or bomb threat.

“These phone calls were made to several schools in different counties. All calls have had similar content. All calls are being thoroughly investigated and responded to by law enforcement.

“These calls have created lockdowns and/or evacuations of the schools with a large response from police and emergency services.

“The PSP has responded to all incidents in our primary coverage areas and has been in contact with municipal law enforcement partners investigating these incidents in their coverage areas.

“At this time, all claims in these calls have been determined to be false. All schools involved have been cleared or are in the process of being cleared by law enforcement.

“The investigation is ongoing.”

UPDATE 12:02 p.m.:

Students from Oakland Catholic are now heading back into their homerooms to get a head count before they are released to parents.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs provided the following update:

There were calls for two schools. Those two schools were Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic. Any further updates related to those two schools will come directly from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

The call about the third school was a miscommunication related to a request for support for a school in a neighboring county.

UPDATE 11:51 a.m.:

FBI Pittsburgh provided the following statement:

“FBI Pittsburgh is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”

UPDATE 11:43 a.m.

Pittsburgh public safety said both Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic high schools have been cleared and declared safe, and that there is no evidence of an active shooter.

UPDATE 11:41 a.m.

The Forest Hills School District was on a precautionary lockdown, but it has since been lifted.

ALL CLEAR NOTICE!!!! Thank you for your patience and trust regarding the lockdown process and procedures.

Posted by Forest Hills School District on Wednesday, March 29, 2023

UPDATE 11:38 a.m.:

Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus tells Channel 11 that there are no injuries and no evidence of any shootings at local schools.

UPDATE 11:32 a.m.

Carnegie Mellon University said on-campus activities can resume after local officials indicate there is no ongoing threat.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.

University of Pittsburgh police said they will be reopening the university after determining that it is safe to reopen at this time.

UPDATE 11:12 a.m.:

Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs released the following statement regarding the situation:

“County 9-1-1 has received three separate calls reporting that there is an active shooter in three separate schools. We are also aware that similar reports are coming in for schools outside of the county. In each instance, law enforcement is responding but believes that these are false reports. Thus far, there has been no active shooter found and no injuries at any school. Law enforcement will continue to thoroughly check out any reports.”

UPDATE 11:11 a.m.:

Pittsburgh Public Safety says that Oakland Catholic students will now rally at St. Paul’s Cathedral and that Central Catholic remains on lockdown.

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