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A ‘Swatting’ Leads to an Accidental Discharge

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An image of St. John's Prep school in Danvers, MA
St. John's Prep school in Danvers, MA

Swatting – the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.

On Monday, May 22, 2023, there was a hoax called into St John’s Prep that there was someone in the men’s bathroom and there was some sort of threat. Swatting is a false 911 call. St John’s Prep is a private school with a tuition of nearly $32,000 per year.

Just before 2 p.m., Danvers, Mass. Police Department responded to the call that there was a person with a gun inside the school. It appeared that as the police were clearing the school, a police officer discharged a firearm in the men’s room. Several more police, believing it was an active shooter, responded to the school campus.

At 1:49 p.m., state police said an “immediate entry” was made and no threats were identified. Both teams then did a second sweep.

State police said there were no injuries.

Students, staff and faculty continued to shelter in place until state police cleared the buildings.

I just want to state that I am not anti-police or against the police in any way or form. The police are only human, just like you and I. They can, and do, make mistakes.

Here are my issues.

One, the anti-gun crowd are the folks that believe that only the police and military should own firearms. They shouldn’t be the only ones. The anti-civil liberties crowd will often say that police are “highly trained,” which is often the case, but they’ll add that civilians shouldn’t and don’t have the same training and therefore shouldn’t carry, or even own, firearms or… “patrol rifles.” We know that a “patrol rifle” is an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, one of the most commonly owned firearms in America.

I have several friends who train often and with some of the best trainers in the country. I also have several friends who shoot regularly, like every week regularly. The police, more often than not, aren’t gun guys or gals. They will take training at the police academy and do their qualifications once or twice a year, whichever is required. Just because a police officer carries and “handles” a firearm daily does not guarantee they’re proficient at shooting or manipulating a gun.

A study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that people with carry permits are more law-abiding than police officers.

“We find that permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at less than a sixth the rate for police officers,” the report says.

As reported by WCVB5 ABC, it was a “highly trained” officer that caused the shift from swatting response to an active shooter.

Danvers police Chief James Lovell said a responding officer accidentally discharged a weapon, which elevated the situation from a normal swatting response to an actual active shooter situation.

“Due to the accidental discharge, that’s what really kind of ramped up the response. Typically, we would have probably just kept our patrol force investigating initially, but when we had that report, we didn’t know where it happened at originally or how it occurred, so we had a larger response,” Lovell said.

The irony isn’t lost in that it was a 911 call first, then an active shooter after the police arrived and let loose a round in the men’s room.

My next issue is that this “school shooting” happened on the eve of the next Mass. Gun Law Listening Tour, which is to be held in Framingham and New Bedford this week. The topic is “Preventing School Shootings” & “Impacted Communities 3,” respectively. Isn’t it ironic? There’s an “active shooter” incident the day before this event. I don’t want to put my tinfoil hat on before I finish writing this article, but it feels a little suspicious. The school also canceled classes on Tuesday, May 23. I’m not sure if it’s to replace the tiles in the bathroom or to clean up whatever it was they shot in the men’s room.

We don’t know who the police officer is who fired into the men’s bathroom. Hell, we’re not even sure if it was a men’s bathroom. Supposedly only one shot was fired. Was the officer overzealous? Did he think someone was in the bathroom with him? Or was there someone in the bathroom that needed to be shot?

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the police, with all their training on firearms, are able to possess so-called “high capacity” magazines, handguns that are not on the approved weapons roster, and avail themselves to all kinds of carve-outs in Massachusetts’ law. They can also own the “patrol rifle,” which is an AR-15 style rifle that often has a pistol grip, a collapsible stock, a flash suppressor, and a bayonet lug, which are 4 of the 5 features of a so-called “assault weapon” if you or I owned the exact same rifle.

Further note that the media has been saying the weapon “went off.” Ummm, guns don’t “go off,” they’re fired. Unless of course, they’re broken, don’t work properly, or Alec Baldwin is holding it.

To top it off, here’s an article about “patrol rifles” that were stolen by teenagers in Malden, Mass., earlier this year, right out of a state police cruiser. Again with the “patrol rifle” talk. PS, ammunition was stolen, too.

Adding insult to injury, the anti-gun wackos will add this to the list of “school shootings.” Very much like when the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” added the name of one of the Boston Marathon bombers to the list of “gun violence victims.” While I’m bringing up the marathon bombers, let’s remember the police fired 210 rounds during the gunfight with the bombers.

Just to reiterate, I’m not anti-police. I’m all for the police having the training they need on firearms and other things as well. On the flipside, I’m also a proponent of not giving the police carve-outs in the law for what they can possess or where they can carry. If there’s a standard that the Massachusetts legislature thinks is suitable for the everyday man, then it should be the same for our police and those who guard the lawmakers.

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