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CUPD target of ‘swatting’ incident after false active shooter threat

David Ferrara, alumnus
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The Clemson University Police Department was the target of a swatting incident, a tactic in which emergency services are intentionally deceived, as officers responded to a false report of active shooters on campus Thursday evening.

Clemson University Police received the first of two hoax calls at 8:32 p.m. The caller said he was under a bus, and two individuals with rifles and trench coats were near Cooper Library, Chief Gregory Mullen said in a statement. The caller said he did not go to school at Clemson, so he did not know his location and then disconnected the call.
CUPD dispatched units to the library at 8:33:25 p.m. — a minute and a half after the call was received, Mullen said.
Two CUPD officers arrived and entered the library only another minute and a half later, unable to see any indicators that supported an active shooter. A total of nine CUPD and City of Clemson officers subsequently responded, and other mutual aid responders were en route but canceled once the call was determined to be false.
No other calls or sightings at the library or surrounding area were received during the response. Officers spoke with students and staff at the library; there were no issues. Additionally, no busses were found in the area, Mullen said.
Dispatch soon reconnected with the caller, and he said he was near the scene. Dispatch noticed no sirens in the background of the call, which were prevalent based on the number of officers responding.
Twenty minutes after the first call, the caller reconnected with dispatch at 8:52:45 p.m. and said he was now in Cribb Hall and could still see the armed individuals. Officers responded to Cribb Hall to confirm the area was safe, even after verifying the call at Cooper Library was false, Mullen said.
The caller placed the hoax calls through Voice over Internet Protocol, a way of using the internet to make a phone call. Police said Thursday that they are investigating the origins of the calls.
University police sent safe alerts to students after the threat had been confirmed false.
The first safe alert was sent to all students at 9:14 p.m., almost an hour after police received the initial call. The alert said that police had received threats of an active shooter that they determined to be false. A follow-up message was sent at 9:38 p.m. to give an “all clear” that there were no threats to campus at that time.
Mullen acknowledged questions surrounding the procedure for sending out safe alerts, and why one was not sent initially sent out.
“Due to the quick arrival of officers and recognition that no threat existed, a determination was made that a safe alert was not needed and could create unnecessary panic, so one was not issued,” Mullen said.
Mullen said that after the threat was confirmed false, the police response and the number of individuals who observed or encountered officers prompted officials to send out a safe alert to explain the situation.
“CUPD takes seriously its responsibility for the safety and security of students, staff, and faculty who make up our community,” Mullen said. “I can, without hesitation, say that campus safety and well-being is our top priority — and that will never change.”

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