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The Student News Site of Findlay High School

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FHS experiences yet another swatting

April 16 was supposed to be a short, state test day, but for many students it turned into a traumatizing experience instead.
Broken glass in Mr. Rosendale’s room from a chair used to barricade the door during the incident.

On Tuesday, April 16, Findlay High School experienced its second swatting in two years. The event was unexpected and has left many students panicked and feeling unsafe at FHS. 


While students arriving at school awaited their classmates finishing their ELA part I Ohio State Test, Findlay High School was put under a level 3 lockdown as police entered the building. A person claimed that he had an AR-15 style rifle and two students that he had taken hostage in a second floor bathroom at Findlay High School in a call to the Findlay Police Department. 


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Many students reported that their teachers or administrators in rooms with them were unaware of what was going on as officers entered the building. Students reported that the sound they heard from the SafeDefend box alarm sounded like the Tornado warning sound to them. 


“Some of the boys were at the window [in the classroom] and they were looking outside and we heard sirens coming and they said that there were cops outside and they were starting to come in the building,” sophomore Olivia Stimmel, who was in room 209, said. “[The boys] were joking around about why they were coming in the building and then the boxes started going off.”


Students close to where the SafeDefend system was triggered reported that they barricaded their classrooms, grabbed textbooks and the items from the SafeDefend boxes, and prepared for the worst.

“I had to hide in a corner and I had to grab a textbook,” sophomore Olivia Spoon, who was also in room 209 when the SafeDefend boxes were triggered, stated. “We weren’t allowed to have our phones initially because some people didn’t finish their tests.”

This was the first time the school has had to utilize the SafeDefend systems since their installation last school year after the first swatting call. Due to this, many students did not know what the alarm, or buzzer, sound they were hearing was until others told them what was happening. Students in the cafeteria were herded into the gym locker rooms or the auditorium, and those in the academic wings of the school were told to remain where they were. 


While the school has had lockdown drills during the 2023-2024 school year, none have involved anything to the degree of the ALICE training received by many students in middle school or anything that included triggering the SafeDefend boxes so students know what they do, how they function, and what the alarm sounds like. Safety zones for evacuation are also unknown by many of the students at FHS. 


Students who were not already in the school building were told to leave the premises. Many reported hearing others yelling at them to run away from the building. Some classes evacuated the building, going to restaurants and hotels close to Findlay High School.

“They let us make phone calls from [the Drury Inn] phones if we needed it and they were letting people leave from there if their parents were there to sign them out,” sophomore Aubrey Lindhal, who evacuated from room 149, recalled. “Then we got the call to go back for third period.”


Several students reported that in one of the locked down locker rooms, other FHS students were banging on objects in the room, screaming, laughing and saying things like “It’s gunshots” and “We’re going to die” loudly. They also reported that these students were opening doors to the outside without permission from the teacher in the room or law enforcement during this lockdown. 


Parents, who witnessed police officers responding to the call and entering the school building, took to Facebook to receive and transmit information during the event, as parents were not notified of the lockdown situation until 15 minutes after the lockdown began. Speculation about whether there was an active shooter began between parents, as well as reports that there was a student reported with a gun inside of Findlay High School. 


“It was pretty scary,” junior Colin Smith, who was in the auditorium, said. “I called my mom and when I called her she didn’t know anything.”


After confirmation was released by the Findlay Police Department that the call was a hoax and no threat was found at FHS, parents still continued to report that the incident was not in fact a hoax because they had evidence of a gunshot through the inside window of an FHS classroom. This report is false, as the damage to the classroom’s glass is impact damage from a chair that was reportedly used to barricade the door during the lockdown and caused the glass to break by accident. 


Parents online also reported that there was screaming and yelling during the ordeal in the hallways, proving that the incident was real. Students who were in the hallway were reportedly aimed at by officers during the initial entry because the officers did not know yet that the call was a hoax, nor if any of the students were the alleged active shooter at this point in time. 


Police swept the school building, clearing classrooms individually after their initial investigation into the call in which they asked students if they had heard anything about someone with a gun or seen anyone with a gun. Students were sent to their period 3 class for attendance, during which FHS Principal Mrs. Simon made an announcement telling students to carry on with the day as normal and unless a parent called or emailed FHS attendance, students would not be permitted to leave school for the remainder of the day. 


Shaken up students, both who were inside and outside of the building, are now left feeling uneasy about the situation.

“I was terrified,” senior Shelby Craig, who was outside of the high school and crossed to the Drury Inn, said. “One of the cars driving on the highway behind me made a loud, almost like a tire popping, noise and I was instantly scared for all of the students because we’ve never done active shooter training and I believed that it was a gunshot at first.”


Craig also recalled herself and a group of other students being told by an administrator to leave the parking lot and weave through cars, presumably to make themselves less of a target should the reported gunman leave the building. 


The investigation on the incident is ongoing, and thus no police report has been released to the public at this point in time. As of Thursday, the Findlay Police Department shared that the Courier put in a public records request for the release of the phone call, which the FDP is working on redacting sensitive information to release. 


Following the incident on Tuesday, Findlay High School had extra support in the FHS auditorium for students struggling to cope with the traumatic event on Wednesday throughout the day. Regardless of it being a hoax, many students were left scared for their or their friends’ lives during the time where it was believed that there was a real active shooter/hostage situation within Findlay High School. 


This swatting, unlike the prior incident during the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, seems to be isolated. The previous swatting incident was a part of a widespread swatting hoax that spread across Ohio in September of 2022. 


“I was nervous, but with last year’s events I wasn’t too confident that it was a real event,” Stimmel added. 


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Holly Spitler
Holly Spitler, Editor in Chief
Holly Spitler, senior, is the Editor in Chief of the Blue & Gold Today for the 2023-2024 school year. This is her fourth year as a member of the B&G staff and third year as an editor. Her favorite part of the class is helping first year writers progress in their abilities and help them discover what they enjoy writing about. When she’s not in the classroom or editing stories, she’s usually at marching band rehearsal or listening to music. Her favorite music includes 80's glam rock, alternative rock, post-hardcore, or metalcore. Her favorite bands are Pierce The Veil, Sleeping with Sirens, and Motley Crue. 

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