OZARK, Mo. — On Monday, March 27, at about 2:25 pm Ozark School District announced on Facebook that the school was on lockdown after a “shots fired” report was received and all students and staff were evacuated while police investigated.
At 3:37 p.m. on Monday, Ozark parents were given the all-clear by Superintendent Dr. Chris Bauman:
Ozark parents, we have now been given the “all-clear.”
Today, Ozark High School and Ozark Junior High were placed in on a code red lockdown around 2:00 p.m. after a report of “shots fired.” Ozark Middle School and all elementary schools were placed on a Code Yellow lockdown.
After going through the District protocol and an investigation by our School Resource Officers along with Ozark Police Department and Christian County Sheriff’s Office, we believe this was a fake call and there was no evidence that shots were ever fired. Other area schools districts also received similar reports. Despite this being a regional hoax, Ozark followed all safety and security procedures to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff.
Safety and security are always our top priority. We want to thank all the emergency personnel and our school resource officers that responded.
We are now beginning dismissal procedures for OJH & OHS. All buses, including elementary routes, will be about 45 minutes late. We appreciate your patience and understanding.Dr. Chris Bauman, Ozark School District Superintendent
Parents later lined up in their cars to pick up their kids.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking and stressful,” said Cherrie Whittemore, a parent of two Ozark students. “And you just, right now, I just, I want my arms around both my girls. I just want them home.”
The Ozark Police Department and Christian County Sheriff’s Office said all roads to the high school remained closed while officers made sure students were safe.
Other local districts also received false reports of active shooters Monday afternoon, including Carl Junction, Branson, and Carthage, according to Sergeant Mike McClure with Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop D.
Kickapoo also posted the following on its Facebook page that a false report was also received by emergency personnel:
Dear Kickapoo Staff and Families:
A false emergency call related to Kickapoo High School was received by emergency services today. In response, law enforcement has conducted an investigation onsite and concluded that it is a false alarm. There are many reports across the state and nation of false information being relayed to emergency responders, however it is too early to determine if there is a connection in this matter. That investigation will be ongoing.
We want our families and the community to be assured that everyone is safe at Kickapoo High School. This was a false alarm and we will proceed with our regular schedule.Bill Powers, Principal
These fake reports are called “swatting,” where triggering calls or texts are made so law enforcement have to respond to them.
“You’ve got officers running code, running hard to get to, to get to the threat and get it neutralized,” McClure said. “And it’s, it’s just, it’s creating a dangerous environment all the way around.”
And although all of the calls in the Ozarks turned out to be false alarms, they were still treated like a high-level threat to students.
“They’re still doing their protocols, they’re still doing not just a primary search but secondary searches before we’re going to let our kids back into the school,” McClure said. “Because that safety is paramount.”