Dozens more schools across New York were hit by another wave of unfounded threats on Tuesday, according to officials, which follows a similar wave of unfounded reports, known as "swatting," that occurred last week.
"More than 50 school districts across New York have received disturbing 'swatting' threats today including in Central New York, Long Island, the Southern Tier and the North Country," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "I want to reassure parents that their children are safe at school - swatting threats are false and intended to cause panic and scare students, teachers and families."
The wave last week impacted 36 schools and the governor said that event was likely computer-generated by suspects overseas.
"I have directed the New York State Police to investigate these threats and work closely with all levels of law enforcement to identify the perpetrators, hold them accountable, and restore the sense of safety and security our children deserve," Hochul also said. "Since the first round of swatting incidents occurred last week, State Police has been working closely with the State Education Department, county leadership and local school boards to provide support and any necessary resources to address these incidents. My top priority will always be the safety of New Yorkers."
The FBI defines swatting as "calling 911 and faking an emergency that draws a response from law enforcement — usually a SWAT team." The governor said these calls mostly go into school offices.
The incidents come at a tense time after last week's shooting at a Presbyterian private school in Nashville, Tenn., that killed three 9-year-old students and staff members. That shooting has resurfeced the issue of school safety at the state and federal level.
“The soulless criminals who committed these shameful and cowardly illegal acts must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I thank our local and state law enforcement who are working to investigate these threats, so perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice," Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik said in a statement.
A number of schools from Tuesday's incidents are in Stefanik's North Country congressional district.
A proposal in the New York state Legislature, sponsored by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Assemblyman Nader Sayegh, would require the state Education Department to create minimum safety standards and a set of best practices for safety on school property. The State Police superintendent and the commissioner of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services would help provide input and guidance for the standards.