Shooting threat made at Bellefonte High School deemed uncredible

Pauline Alterio, Social Media and Website Manager

This story was NOT published by officials from the Bellefonte Area School District. Official district websites and law enforcement are the best source for accurate, timely information.

The Bellefonte Area High School was placed under lockdown March 29 after local police received a threatening phone call that claimed there was an active shooter within the school. The call was received around 9:15 A.M. and was ultimately deemed non-credible, but evacuation of students and staff to the school’s football stadium still began 30 minutes later, and the building was completely cleared by noon. Students were dismissed for the day shortly after and were not permitted to re-enter until the following day.

The call was one of over two-dozen received that day across the state that targeted schools in the Pittsburgh, Erie, Lehigh Valley, Altoona, Centre County, and Hollidaysburg areas. Calls were made on threats of bombs or active shooter scenarios.

Pennsylvania State Troopers Christopher Fox and Jacob Rhymestine said on Twitter that all of the messages were “swatting calls,” which are false, threatening phone calls intended to generate law enforcement response at a particular location.

Bellefonte High School Principal Mr. Mike Fedisson later released a statement thanking first responders and Bellefonte students and families for their cooperation, patience, and support.

“I want to thank everyone for your cooperation and patience today as we worked through this event,” he said. “I cannot say enough how proud I am of our students, staff, families, and communities. My special thanks goes out to all of our first responders that put their safety aside for the sake of us all.”

Fedisson assured there would be an increased police presence within the district and that additional school counselors would be on hand for the needs of students and staff.

The High School resumed normal instruction on March 30.


Original updates from 3/29/23

UPDATE 8:58 P.M 3/29/23

A new statement from the Bellefonte School District says the Bellefonte High School will be in session as normal for tomorrow, March 30. Classes will run on a cycle day six schedule and in abidance with marking period three schedules, as the final day of the third quarter was cut short with today’s disruptions. There will also be an “increased police presence and additional school counselors for any student needs.”

UPDATE 2:50 P.M. 3/29/23

Bellefonte School District officials say the high school has been completely cleared and students will not be permitted to re-enter the building today.

WJAC has reported that over 70 law enforcement personnel responded to the scene.

UPDATE 1:35 P.M. 3/29/23:

PA State Police have deemed all threatening calls made to PA schools to be false and non-credible. They are conducting further investigations into the matter.


UPDATES UP TO 12:45 P.M. 3/29/23

Students at Bellefonte Area High School are being dismissed and reunited with parents after an active shooting threat was made the morning of March 29. A statement (link) from the Bellefonte School District said police had received a threatening call against the high school, and police had responded and have been since clearing the building. The threat was determined “not to be credible.” Students and staff are safe.

From the Bellefonte Area School District’s website.

The High School went into lockdown shortly before 9:30 A.M, and evacuation of students, staff, and building personal to the football field began by 10 A.M after State and local police had made a first clear of the school.

On Twitter, Pennsylvania State Police say other school districts across the state have been receiving similar messages called “swatting calls,” which are false, threatening messages intended to generate law enforcement response at a particular location.

Altoona Area School District reported an outside call had been made claiming “shots fired outside Altoona High School.” Officials there said the call was false and that there was “no evidence of such activity,” although police would be in the school the rest of the day.

State Police have also confirmed Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg and the Hollidaysburg School District to be recipients of hoax calls.

Other area districts are on lockdown or stricter security measures. The State College Area School District temporarily moved physical education classes and elementary recesses indoors before an email from Superintendent Curtis Johnson announced they were lifting such protocols.

“We are returning all of our school operations to normal,” Johnson’s email said. It continued by providing reassurance that no threat had been made to the State College District, but that school counselors would be available all day if students and staff wished to speak with one.

In Pittsburgh, four schools have also received “hoax calls.”

The University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus was on lockdown for 20 minutes because of the threat made to Central Catholic High School.

This story is breaking and will be updated accordingly. This story does not necessarily represent the views of the Bellefonte Area School District, and law enforcement and district officials are the best source for accurate and timely information.