Morgan County, AL. (WHNT) — Several North Alabama school districts were the victims of fake shooting calls Tuesday — now law enforcement says the people who made those false calls will face justice.
Police say making fake calls, social media posts, or emails — or swatting — can result in criminal charges.
Swatting involves a person having some sort of correspondence about a fake emergency to draw large numbers of law enforcement to a specific location. Officials say when they receive calls about an active shooter threat, they follow protocol and act quickly to ensure safety.
A former U.S. attorney says those folks could now face felony charges.
“Let’s say there were six terrorist threats made to schools in the State of Alabama, and they were prosecuted by the feds… they could face 120 years in consecutive sentences,” explained Jay Town, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Town says those who made the calls could face time — up to 10 years per call.
According to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), school resource officers (SRO) responded quickly to the calls on Tuesday.
“Today it went exactly how it was supposed to from the Morgan County 911 operator relaying information both to the SRO and to patrol in the area,” said Mike Swafford, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office.
Swafford said their operations went correctly with Trinity Police Department responding in moments and the SRO noticing that “something’s not adding up” as they never noticed gun shots in the area.
Threats in the same vein were made from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa Tuesday, prompting law enforcement to say it’s just a matter of time before the caller is found.
“No matter what you do there is a digital trail,” Swafford explained. “There’s just a matter of time before we pick it up [and] piece it together, especially with our federal partners. This person in all likelihood will be found.”
All the schools involved in Tuesday’s false calls say operations will continue as normal on Wednesday.