MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Schools in a Lansing-area district will be closed Wednesday as staff, students and families recover from a phony report of a shooting, a chilling alert that had police scrambling quickly to respond and caused the evacuation of hundreds of teens.
Officers were at Okemos High School within three minutes after a morning call about a shooting, but there was no violence, Meridian Township police Chief Ken Plaga said.
Schools in Detroit, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, Battle Creek and Portage received similar shooting hoaxes Tuesday, state police said.
“It’s not a joke,” FBI agent David Porter said.
“Unfortunately we live in an era where we see what happens when this is real,” he said, adding, “When you make false reports like this, it’s dangerous and it’s a crime. You put people at risk.”
Tina Kerr, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, called it “a traumatic day” across the state.
The Okemos district, which has 4,500 students, is east of Lansing in Ingham County. The high school went into lockdown after the report of a shooting.
“I saw a couple students literally having a mental breakdown, like they had to be calmed down,” said Sana Baig, a student.
"That was making me more scared, too. I was like, ‘This is serious,’” Baig told The Detroit News. She said she rushed into a closet.
Okemos schools will be closed Wednesday, but mental health counselors will be available at the buildings.
“For many students and their families, the terror was all too real,” county prosecutor John Dewane said.
In October, nearly a year after four students were killed in a shooting at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan, a teenager pleaded guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder charges.