Police responded to threats made to three different children’s hospitals in two provinces on Sunday night. Calgary police officers believe the calls were dangerous pranks.
On Sunday night at approximately 8pm in Alberta and simultaneously in Toronto, police received calls about threats to public safety in local hospitals, including Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital, Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital, and Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, according to CBC.
Police in Toronto and Calgary responded by putting the hospitals in lockdown, while in Edmonton police sent officers to investigate the issue but avoided a lockdown.
In Calgary, the Alberta Children’s hospital was surrounded by dozens of police vehicles, according to witnesses as reported by Global News and helicopter footage.
Calgary Police think that the calls were related, and believe that it was a case of swatting. Swatting is when someone prank calls an emergency service in order to bring a large number of armed police to a particular address. These types of pranks have lead to death in the past, such as in the case of a Kansas man being shot at his door in Dec. by Police responding to a call from Los Angeles.
“At approximately 8:20 pm on Sunday Feb 25, a person contacted 911 to say that they, and others, were in possession of guns and were going into the children’s hospital,” Paul Wozney of the Calgary Police service in a video published by CBC.
“After a thorough search of the grounds and hospital by police, the threat was deemed not to be credible and the lockdown was released at approximately 9:45 pm,” he said.
Wozney said the police believe all incidents are related and the issue is now being investigated by the general investigations unit, as well as the cyber crimes team.
“Swatting calls have the potential to create significant risks to both public and officer safety and can require an extensive amount of resources to respond and investigate,” he said.