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'Swatting' incidents reported in Gallatin County, statewide

There was a scary situation last Friday morning in Gallatin County with the false report of an active shooter outside the Manhattan Library.

Manhattan Police Chief Dennis Hengel said a little before 10 a.m., the department received a call from dispatch informing them there was an active shooter at the library next to the school. After being the first to respond, Hengel said everything looked normal, and there was no indication of an active shooter. Hengel immediately contacted the Manhattan Principal and told him to go into lockdown.

After an immediate search of the area by law enforcement officials, Hengel said it appeared to be a “swatting incident”, which is a false emergency report.

Hengel appreciated the assistance from school officials and the response from parents.

“They were very calm…Everybody worked in cooperation to make sure all our students were safe,” he said.

Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer said the initial report came in at 9:57 a.m., and it was unusual because the call that stated there was an active shooter in dark clothing outside the library did not come straight through 911.

Springer said it became apparent there had been other notifications across the state, and eight other Montana counties had similar events the same day. He also said this is an ongoing problem across the country and is very dangerous.

Springer added the response to the incident was quick and well-organized.

Springer said the Sheriff’s Office had the first press release out in 35 minutes letting the community know this was no longer a threat.

“That is a difficult 35 minutes, but we try to get the information out as soon as possible,” he said.

According to Springer, the GCSO has responded to other swatting incidents, but this was the first one at a school.