Swatting calls: False threats to Iowa schools


Brooklyn Gowan

On March 21, many schools across Iowa received threats through phone calls which resulted in many of the districts going on lockdown.

Brooklyn Gonwan , PV Only Editor

On March 21, 2023, around 30 schools across Iowa received “swatting calls.” These schools received a call between the 8:00 and 10:30 a.m, sending the schools into lockdowns. 

A “swatting call” is a term that has been used to describe a threat “intended to trigger an immediate and widespread law enforcement deployment or emergency service response to a specific location.” Typically, these reports make claims of active shootings, bomb threats or hostage situations. The calls made that day claimed an active shooter was in the buildings. 

These false threats were made to schools all over the state, including Clinton, Davenport and several schools in Iowa City. Fortunately, no calls were made to Pleasant Valley but the school did have a plan in the event they received a threat. 

Pleasant Valley Superintendent Brian Strusz shared what measures would’ve been taken. “I hope we never receive a swatting call or a real intruder call but our procedures include many components of what you probably know about already through our annual training.  Those training sessions are our classroom ALICE discussions and ‘drills.’ Please know we will take these calls very seriously,” he said. 

He continued to explain the other procedures that would be followed in this event. The school would gather as much information as possible from the calls and contact law enforcement services, while also constantly continuing to inform the students and staff to give them the best plan of action to stay safe. 

The schools that did receive the swatting calls reported the information to the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, who shared the information with the local law enforcement. This allowed information to be spread quickly to other schools in the area to keep everyone updated on the situation. 

DPS is still working with the FBI to recover information about the identity of the caller. DPS commissioner Stephan Baynes said there is reason to believe it was the same person behind all 30 calls. He said the male voice appeared to be using an accent and making similar calls to districts across the state. 

The next steps in identifying the caller are yet to be announced.