YORK, Maine —
The York County Emergency Management confirms the incident at Sanford High School & Regional Technical Center is a hoax.
According to officials, a call came into the Sanford Regional Communications Center around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday. The call came from an untraceable number, reporting there was an active shooter dressed in a black coat and black pants with a gun on the first floor of the high school. The caller told authorities they were locked in a staff room.
Sanford police Lt. Matthew Gagne said two school resource officers were already on the scene at the high school at the time of the call.
The superintendent of Sanford schools said once the information was gathered, schools went into a lockdown situation.
Gardiner and Portland schools received similar calls with similar descriptions of a shooter, officials said.
Sanford’s fire chief Steve Benotti said after receiving the report, they responded with several units and those from surrounding areas.
When no patients were found, the fire chief said crews demobilized but add they had enough resources on the scene, citing past active shooter training for the response.
“Nobody ever wants to go through this type of situation and we can thank all our lucky stars that nothing terrible came out of it as of today,” Benotti said. “It’s just the world that we live in that we have to be ready to respond to such things.”
Hundreds of parents arrived at the Memorial Gym to pick up their children following the hoax.
Many parents waited with tears in their eyes for more than two hours.
“You just kind of sit there and hope that everybody okay, that your child is okay,” Candace Godfrey, a mother of a student at Sanford High said.
“This is as close as you’re going to get to a situation that’s not – that doesn’t end up being real,” Commissioner of Maine Department of Public Safety Michael Sauschuck said. “If you commit a crime like this in the state of Maine, we’re going to come after you.”
Due to the hoax, classes at Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center will be canceled Wednesday. The school will be open for students to pick up items.
Counselors will also be made available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all high school students. Classes are set to resume Thursday, Nov. 17.
Maine State Police said they are aware of multiple active shooter threats throughout the state, saying they are all believed to be hoaxes.
“Thank God nothing happened down at the school today,” Gagne said.
“We got real practice today.” Superintendent Matt Nelson said, adding pride in the response of staff, students and first responders. “(We are) very fortunate that it was not credible.”
The FBI is aware of the numerous threats and said they are working with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information.
An FBI spokesperson said: “We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.”