Minnesota middle school locked down on hoax call about shooting

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 20, 2013 3:53 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A 12-year-old boy's bogus report of a school shooting sent up to 50 police officers swarming to school buildings in a town near Minneapolis, where students and staff were locked down for two hours on Wednesday morning, officials said.

The boy was taken into custody and classes at the New Prague Area Schools were canceled for the day after the incident, which also forced a response by ambulances and put nearby medical facilities on alert for possible casualties, officials said.

The incident comes three months after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, in a shooting rampage at a Connecticut school, spurring nationwide calls for action to curb gun violence.

On Wednesday, school staff cut the lights, quickly locked the doors and huddled quietly with the students in response to the police emergency order in New Prague, a city of 7,400 people about 40 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

"When the initial entry into the schools by officers was made, it was quickly determined that nothing had taken place," New Prague Police Chief Mark Vosejpka told a news conference.

Vosejpka said two false 911 calls reporting a shooting at the middle school, with two injuries, were traced to a cell phone. The boy taken into custody is a district student and authorities were not currently looking for anyone else, he said.

"In this day and age you have to take these things very seriously and we do. We did," Vosejpka said. "We are fortunate that it came to a closure ... that it was a prank and that we do know the responsible party."

It was the second time in two months that New Prague schools were closed due to a false threat. A student who made an unfounded bomb threat earlier was expelled.

(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)