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Threat leading to school lockdown deemed non-credible

by Parker Loew

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, St. Louis County Dispatch received a call from a male stating he was at the Washington Elementary School in Ely with a firearm intending to harm students.

To ensure the safety of the students, Ely Police Department advised the school to go into lockdown.

With the help of the Babbitt Police Department, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Border Patrol, the Ely Police Department cleared the school and determined there was no active threat present.

The Ely Police Department had officers posted at the school for the remainder of the day as a precaution, but it is believed there was no legitimate threat to staff or students.

“It is currently believed the threats received by the Washington Elementary School and other county schools were not credible as the calls were believed to have come from out of state,” said Chad Houde, the chief of the Ely Police Department.

Washington Elementary was not the only school in Northern Minnesota threatened recently.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Minnesota Fusion Center (MNFC) is aware of eight hoax school shooting calls made to Minnesota 911 call centers over the past two days.

All eight threats to various Minnesota schools over the last two days appeared to have come from the same individual, who used Voice Over IP to conduct the calls. The caller was allegedly difficult to understand and used broken English.

The Ely Police Department was advised schools in Duluth and Eveleth had also received similar threats on the morning of Feb. 28.

“It is believed these were “swatting” incidents,” said Houde.

Swatting is the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers, such as a SWAT team, to a particular address.

Minnesota saw 27 hoax school shooting calls in 2022, including 17 in September 2022.

None of these were found to be legitimate, but law enforcement still treats each incident seriously and with the highest regard.


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