A caller’s false threat to “kill everyone” at Wheaton North High School led to a large police response at the school Monday morning as officers responded to a similar threat at Winnetka’s North Shore Country Day School.
An individual called 911 around 9:30 a.m. and told dispatchers he or she was armed with a firearm and explosives, Wheaton police said. The caller claimed to be walking into the high school “with the intent to kill everyone,” police said.
Wheaton police and other law enforcement agencies immediately responded to the school, where classes were not in session Monday because of the Presidents Day holiday. Officers found no apparent threats as they searched the campus, police said.
Police initially asked residents within two blocks of the high school to “shelter in place,” but had lifted the request by 10:45 a.m. Staff and students at the school were evacuated from the school building.
The ominous call and subsequent school evacuation come as “emotions are high,” District 200 Superintendent Jeff Schuler and Wheaton Police Chief Bill Murphy said in a joint statement Monday, apparently referencing recent mass shootings.
“District 200, our law enforcement, and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office take all threats to schools very seriously, and oftentimes, criminal charges are made when appropriate. This type of false threat will not be tolerated in our community,” the officials said.
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Despite the false call, police plan to increase their presence outside the high school when classes resume Tuesday, the officials said.
Police said they are classifying the threat against Wheaton North High School as a “swatting” incident designed to draw a large law enforcement response to a particular location and acknowledged similar calls made to “numerous other municipalities.”
Winnetka police responded to North Shore Country Day School after a similar call Monday morning, police said. At 9:12 a.m., an individual made a “direct threat” toward the school’s safety in a call to a nonemergency police dispatch line, police said.
Officers determined the call was not credible after searching the school’s campus, police said. The department said it was aware of similar threatening calls made to other nearby schools.
“Police immediately arrived to campus and performed a thorough search,” school spokesperson Gia Anayas said in a statement. “All individuals who were on campus for various activities at the time are safe.”
Classes were not in session Monday. Police said they plan to increase their presence at all area schools in response to the call.