SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Reports of a gunman prompted a massive police presence at Savannah High School and Savannah Early College on Wednesday morning.
Students were evacuated as SWAT conducted a full sweep, checking the school room by room before giving the “all clear.” Disputing rumors, the Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) said reports of a gunman and injuries at the school were unfounded.
“All the agencies responded in the most appropriate way to make sure we protect the most valuable resource we have in our community — that’s our kids,” said Chief Terry Enoch, head of campus police at SCCPSS.
SCCPSS said at this time, there is no information that suggests any students or staff in the district were involved in the hoax.
I applaud the work of our first responders and the multi-agency support that the school district has built through the excellent work of our Campus Police Department and dedicated school staff. We all play a role in school safety, and while this hoax was terrifying and incredibly reckless, we saw first-hand the collective responsibility that exists in our community when it comes to protecting our children.Dr. Ann Levett, SCCPSS superintendent
District officials said guidance counselors and school social workers will be on-site at the schools to assist students, faculty, staff and families as needed.
“I think this community and certainly our school system, our law enforcement community acted admirably,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. “It was an overwhelming show of force and a show of support for something where we just did not know what was going on.”
School district representative Sheila Blanco said a call came into county dispatch around 9 a.m. saying six people had been shot at Savannah High.
According to a transmission archived by Broadcastify, the 911 call was extremely specific, telling dispatchers the shooter was a white male wearing a black shirt and a mask on the second floor of the school.
“Fortunately, today was a hoax, and we’ll work with our federal agencies to identify and prosecute this individual whoever made this call,” said Interim Chief Lenny Gunther of the Savannah Police Department. “But our priority today was to safeguard the lives of the children and the staff, reunite those children with their parents.”
Parent Jessica Rosario said she heard of the reports when she was at work and rushed to the school.
“I’m just grateful that I was able to collect my child. I hope everybody else collected their kids,” Rosario said frantically.
Rosario said she received no alert from the school, calling it “unacceptable.”
Other parents voiced the same concerns.
“The school should’ve called me first. Not the streets calling me telling what’s going on,” said Yolanda Baker, whose son is in ninth grade.
Meanwhile, schools across the state received similar active shooter calls that were also deemed hoaxes.
Back in October, a dozen districts in neighboring South Carolina received multiple active shooter calls. On Monday, school systems in Alabama were also subject to hoax shooter calls.
Gov. Brian Kemp weighed in on the matter in the Peach State saying, in part, “Rest assured, for the criminals who orchestrated these hoaxes, we will go after them with every single resource available.”
“The FBI is actively investigating these acts of domestic terrorism and we will continue to diligently work with them to see these culprits are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.
In a statement, FBI Atlanta said agents across Georgia are working with law enforcement in identifying the source of the hoax threats.