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Shooting threat at Cloquet schools deemed hoax

Someone called county dispatchers to report a gunman at Cloquet High School, but when police arrived, they "found no issues."

Cloquet High School
Cloquet High School.
Jamie Lund / 2019 file / Cloquet Pine Journal
We are part of The Trust Project.

CLOQUET — Authorities believe a threat that prompted a lockdown at Cloquet High School and Cloquet Middle School was a hoax.

Someone called Carlton County dispatchers on Wednesday morning and reported there was a gunman with an AK-47 shooting students in Room 108 in the high school’s English department.

Cloquet Public Schools staff put the high school and middle school, which share a campus, into lockdown, but after a sweep of the buildings, police found “no issues” and nothing out of the ordinary. There is no Room 108 in the building.

Police believe the call was a hoax — possibly even an attempt to “SWAT” someone, meaning a false call to police that can prompt them to use a SWAT team to forcibly detain an innocent person.

The caller, they claimed, even provided a room number where the supposed attacker was. Cloquet Public Schools staff put the high school and middle school, which share a campus, into lockdown, but, after a sweep of the buildings, police found “no issues.” They believe the call was a hoax.

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“There was no threat,” Superintendent Michael Cary told the News Tribune. “Nothing was happening.”

Cloquet police claimed that similar incidents have been reported across Minnesota on Wednesday. Schools in Rochester and Mankato handled false threats around the same time.

“Technology has increasingly made these types of calls hard to prevent and enforce,” Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall said in an email. “The FBI informed us that the call originated in a similar bomb threat incident in Africa. Currently, we do not know the origins of this call.”

This story was updated at 3:29 p.m. Sept. 21 with further information from Cloquet police. It was originally posted at 11:57 a.m. Sept. 21.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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