SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Police in the Ozarks continue to try to nail down the source of “swatting” calls.

Experts tell KOLR10 the likelihood could be next to nothing.

“It’s not like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Drury University Cybersecurity Professor Shannon McMurtrey. “It’s like finding a needle in a stack of needles.”

In Ozark, police are looking into an anonymous call that falsely claimed an active shooter was at Ozark High School Monday afternoon, causing the school to shut down.

“This investigation’s really early on as far as any information that’s available to us,” Lt. Jared Drye said. “The biggest problem is on an anonymous call, is you’re starting with less than nothing.” 

This type of call is commonly referred to as “swatting.”

“Swatting is something that originated kind of in the gamer culture,” McMurtrey said. “Basically [someone] will call the police and they’ll make up a story of something involving terrorism, involving active shooters, something that will elicit a very large, forceful response. Unfortunately, people can get hurt, people can get killed, so it’s a very dangerous prank.”

Lt. Drye says law enforcement takes every call seriously.

“Any time we receive a call like that, we don’t have the ability to make any determination about the validity of it,” Drye said. “Everything is going to be treated as if it’s actually the event that’s occurring.”

McMurtrey and Drye say the hardest part of these swatting investigations is simply just trying to find out who did it.

“It can be almost impossible. Spoofing a phone number is trivially easily done,” McMurtrey said. “You can make it look like the phone call came from your area code. You can make it look like the phone call came from you. Spoofing your cell number and making these calls are very easy to do and very hard to track down where it came from.”

“It’s important to be able to run these down,” Drye said. “Those challenges again, depending on the quantity of calls that you’ve received or other things like that, it can change your ability to actually to run them down. Everyone in the community is impacted by it. It can’t be dealt with in silence.” 

Given the complex technology used in swatting calls, Ozark Police were unable to give an update on any investigation Tuesday afternoon.