NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) — A man taken into custody Friday during a false active shooter report at Licking Valley High School was a good guy with a gun, according to the sheriff’s office that responded.
Both the Licking County Sheriff’s Office and Newark Division of Police took point on publicly addressing the incident at the school, which is in a district east of Newark. Deputies went to the school — on the 100 block of Hainsview Drive — after reports of an active shooter began coming in around 11:15 a.m. The sheriff’s office and NDP both emphasized there were no shots fired, and no injuries.
“Following protocol all buildings were swept and are secure,” Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said. “It is our understanding that other jurisdictions in Ohio have received the same phone call which activated our incident.”
Referring to it as a “swatting situation,” the sheriff said deputies did not find any evidence of shots fired. However, NDP said authorities detained one person while sweeping the school. During a press conference around 2:15 p.m., Thorp explained a man who was trying to help arrived at the school with a firearm.
“We had a gentleman with good intentions who had showed up and he was armed and his intent was to help, and obviously when law enforcement shows up on the scene, we have no idea who this individual is, so he was handled in a matter that this person was a threat because we didn’t know,” Thorp said. “He was taken into custody and since then all that’s worked out.”
Licking Valley High School parents were asked to report to the high school’s gym, and Licking Valley Middle School parents were asked to report to the middle school’s gym for reunification points, NDP said in a social media post.
A neighboring school district about 15 minutes away, Newark City Schools, initially issued a lockdown order, mandating school buildings to be locked and students to stay inside, but it has since been lifted.
NDP said the incident appears to be part of a “statewide series of bogus phone calls,” including other false reports of active shooter threats in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas.
The Ohio Department of Public of Safety said in a press release Friday afternoon it was aware of false threats throughout the state and country, and that its Ohio School Safety Center is working with the Statewide Terrorism Analysis and Crime Center to investigate.
A high school in downtown Columbus, Cristo Rey Columbus High School, also received false reports of shots fired, according to a school spokesperson. Columbus police arrived at the school and verified it was a false alarm, giving the all-clear.