‘Elaborate hoax’ of active shooter at Valdosta High leaves community shaken
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - An elaborate hoax of an active shooter was reported at Valdosta High School on Wednesday, leaving the Valdosta community shaken up.
The hoax was reported early Wednesday morning.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said the hoax was “well coordinated.”
Valdosta City Schools said in a Facebook post that the high school “was one of several statewide schools that went into lockdown today after the threat of an active shooter on campus.”
Valdosta police said there was a 911 call that there was an active shooter inside the school and that several students were shot.
All schools were placed on lockdown.
“School personnel and local first responders immediately jumped into action to sweep the entire campus. No shooters nor injuries were found during the sweep,” Valdosta City Schools said in a Facebook post. “There were reports of people experiencing panic and/or anxiety attacks and they are being treated by first responders on site.”
Several agencies secured the school and there was no evidence of an active shooter or injuries.
Valdosta High School released students early on Wednesday. Parents waited anxiously outside the school, wanting answers. Hundreds of cars lined the school. Some parents told WALB News 10 said they were misled by social media posts about there being an active shooter on campus.
While officers were searching the school, an adult man jumped the perimeter fence and ran toward an officer. He did not follow the officer’s verbal commands, so he was temporarily detained and released on the scene, which might explain some social media posts many people saw on Wednesday.
Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan said over 50 law enforcement officers were on school grounds within seconds of the initial call.
“We appreciate everybody’s patience with us. I know a lot of people got upset. But when we’re on these scenes, the more citizens that show up and try to interfere, it keeps us from doing our job. So we do ask in situations like this, please let us do our jobs and stay back. It’s really for the security of the children that are in the school,” Manahan said.
The Valdosta Police Department is working with the FBI to determine where the call originated from.
Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement following the reported hoax.
“Rest assured, for the criminals who orchestrated these hoaxes, we will go after them with every single resource available,” Kemp said. “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.”
The hoax also affected high schools in Savannah and Brunswick, our sister station WTOC in Savannah reported.
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