St. Lawrence County law enforcement praised following Thursday’s false threats at schools

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:06 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - “It’s different to see police officers in school, but I can guarantee you, a lot of kids when they see them now a days, they’re very relieved to see them in the halls,” said Massena Central High School Teacher Greg Paquin.

For several schools in St. Lawrence County, usually mundane lockdown drills suddenly became real.

“It’s a little bit sad that we have to prepare for these things. But that’s the world we live in,” said St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Tom Burns.

St. Lawrence County law enforcement received unfounded active shooter reports at Canton, Potsdam, Massena, and Gouverneur schools on Thursday.

It was part of a hoax called “swatting,” when someone reports a false threat with the goal of getting law enforcement officials, like SWAT teams, to respond.

“Yesterday was unique in that we hadn’t experienced swatting before, and it really was a regional event,” said Burns.

St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Tom Burns says luckily the region was ahead of the game.

“Other parts of the state received these threats a couple of hours before we did, so by the time it came here, we already had credible information that we knew these weren’t serious threats,” said Burns.

Massena Mayor Greg Paquin is also a teacher in the district. He praised the Massena Police Department which was also proactive. The school never went into lockdown.

“When the actual call came out that there was an incident going on at Massena, there were four or five police officers in the building, and they were able to very quickly realize that it wasn’t true,” said Paquin.

The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incidents with federal assistance.