SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A series of active shooter threats prompted a police response to high schools across the Wasatch Front in Utah on Wednesday morning. Salt Lake City Police said they were working with other law enforcement agencies to investigate the false calls, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What is the punishment for calling in false active shooter reports or false school threats should law enforcement catch the perpetrator?
According to the FBI, hoax threats are a serious crime. On the federal level, the FBI said posting or sending threats could see a perpetrator receive up to five years in federal prison. If not charged federally, perpetrators could face state or local charges, changing the punishment from state to state.
In the state of Utah, making a threat against a school is a misdemeanor. According to the Utah State Courts, a perpetrator found guilty of a misdemeanor could see up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The FBI said in the aftermath of tragic shootings, such as the Nashville shooting that left six dead, there is often an increase in hoax threats to schools. In addition to the Utah hoax calls, false reports of active school shooters were also made in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
At the onset of the investigation for Utah schools, Ogden City Police Captain Tim Scott said he couldn’t speculate if Wednesday’s hoax calls were local and separate from Pennsylvania’s hoaxes or part of them, making for a federal case.
Five Utah schools were the subject of active shooter hoaxes on Wednesday. Ogden High was the first to report a response, followed shortly by West High, Spanish Fork High, Provo High, and Box Elder High.
All have been confirmed by local authorities to be hoaxes.