Hoax call claimed weapon was on Huntsville City Schools bus, officials say

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville Police say a 911 call saying a student had a gun on a school bus this morning was a hoax and it turns out the caller was just five-years-old.

Huntsville police received a concerning phone call Tuesday morning from a child they believe was on their way to Hampton Cove Elementary. The child told them another student on the bus had a gun.

"With the school shootings and everything you want to make sure you take these calls extremely serious," Lt. Michael Johnson said.

Johnson says the student gave police the wrong bus number and they were dispatched to multiple locations.

"Until we got a definitive answer for what bus number it was, we wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered."

When police finally located the student, they were at Mountain Gap School. They then found out the caller was only five years old and it was a hoax.

"I mean the kid's five-years-old, so they knew they were calling 9-11, but I don't think they really understood the consequences of their actions," Johnson said.

A statement from the Hampton Cove Elementary School principal says they are seeking the full punishment for students involved in this incident.

"The punishment is also age appropriate. That's why in our behavioral learning guide we have one that's for elementary and we have one that's for secondary which includes our middle and high schools," said Keith Ward, Director of Communications for Huntsville City Schools.

Police are not pursuing charges.

How district and law enforcement officials handle false threats:

In the last several weeks, a man was arrested for sending bomb threats to political figures, a shooter killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and last week, a man walked into a club and killed 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California.

Because of the things that we've heard about in the news the last few years, we have to treat everything seriously. That's why at our district we have a number of things in place for security," Ward said.

Huntsville school officials say because of that, fake threats expend a huge amount of resources.

"And that is what's so disconcerting to all of us and that's why you have the levels of punishment," he said.

"When somebody intentionally makes a call that's a hoax it does place a little bit of a burden," Lt. Johnson said.

Johnson says intentionally making a false report is illegal. He says people could be charged with a misdemeanor for rendering a false alarm all the way up to a felony for making a terroristic threat. But he points out that police respond to calls all the time that end up not being anything.

"You know that's what we do. Police are here to check things out when you feel uneasy about something in your neighborhood, or in your workplace, or in school," he said.

So he says if people see something, they should say something.