After police swarmed St. John’s Prep in Danvers on Monday for a report of an active shooter on campus, Massachusetts State Police did not find any gunman and confirmed that it was a hoax.
While responding to the active shooter call, a Danvers police officer accidentally fired a gunshot — leading to a massive police response to the campus.
“The initial response was a threat of a person threatening to cause harm located in one of the men’s rooms,” Danvers Police Chief James Lovell said at a press conference.
“During the initial search, there was an accidental discharge,” he added. “No one was injured, and that prompted the increased response.”
The officer fired their gun inside a men’s bathroom, and no one else was in the bathroom at the time.
Some students fled the 175-acre campus following the report of a person with a gun, quickly running toward the woods.
“This is everybody’s nightmare,” said Head of School Ed Hardiman. “Every parent given the context of our culture today is concerned that things like this can happen.”
“Our community has been really traumatized by this,” the head of school later added.
School officials believe they were the victim of a “swatting” hoax call, and police are investigating the source of the call.
“Threat of a shooter has been confirmed to be a hoax,” Mass State Police tweeted. “All search teams secure from the school. Investigation ongoing to determine the source of the hoax threat.”
Massachusetts State Police troopers and Danvers Police officers responded to the school for a report of a person with a gun at around 1:49 p.m.
“Earlier this afternoon there was a report of an active shooter on campus at Benjamin Hall,” St. John’s Prep wrote on its website. “Danvers and State police reported to campus and the school entered an enhanced lockdown protocol.
“We believe that St. John’s was the victim of a Swatting call,” the school added. “Everyone is safe, there have been no injuries and police are currently clearing campus buildings as we account for all students.”
St. John’s Prep has nine buildings and numerous athletic fields, along with a student and faculty population of more than 1,500 people.
“Several dozen local officers and MSP Troopers responded and made immediate entries to campus buildings and areas,” Mass State Police said in a statement.
“Those personnel, as well as additional personnel conducting secondary sweeps, found no gunman or threats of any kind and no victims,” Mass State Police added.
The report of a Danvers police officer accidentally firing a gunshot is under investigation.
“The State Police Fusion Center is assisting Danvers Police in the investigation into the source of the call,” Mass State Police said of the swatting incident.
Students were cleared out of the buildings. Some students ran from the school grounds on their own following the report of an active shooter. Numerous students were found in the woods next to the school.
“Students who fled school grounds on their own are being directed/shuttled to Stop and Shop, 301 Newbury St (Rt 1) Danvers,” Mass State Police tweeted. “Parents can report there to be reunited with their children.”
At 1:49 PM several dozen Troopers and @DanversPolice responded to St. John’s Prep for report of a person with a gun at the school. Immediate entry made and no threats identified at this time. Teams doing secondary sweeps. We are aware of no injuries at this time. More to follow.
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) May 22, 2023