Canadian teenager arrested for Volunteer H.S. gun hoax

CHURCH HILL — An 18-year-old Canadian man has been arrested for allegedly making a hoax 911 call to Volunteer High School on the morning of Aug. 10 and at least one similar call.

After the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation traced the bogus call about an armed person on the Hawkins County campus to Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made the arrest in connection with “swatting” threats.

One call was placed to Volunteer and another to a school in North Carolina, Josh DeVine, communications director for the TBI, reported on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. A news release from the RCMP, however, referenced two such calls to Tennessee and two to North Carolina.

“In both cases, the schools went into lockdown,” the RCMP of Manitoba said in a tweet. “Large number of police incl(uding) SWAT attended, but no threat was found.”

The RCMP reported that additional investigation “narrowed it further to Fisher River Cree Nation,” where the 18-year-old was arrested.

A Wednesday news release from the RCMP said that on Aug. 30, “Officers attended to the residence and executed a search warrant. A number of electronic items were seized.

“Officers arrested an 18-year-old male at the residence who was taken into custody and later released for court scheduled Dec. 7, 2021, on the Peguis First Nation, Manitoba.”

The release said the Manitoba agency continues to investigate.

A news release from Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson Wednesday evening said a joint investigation by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, Church Hill Police Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the RCMP resulted in an arrest.

“On Aug. 10, just before 8 a.m., Hawkins County 911 received a call from an individual claiming to be a student at Volunteer High School. He told dispatchers that he was in the main bathroom with a gun and was headed to another area of the school,” the release stated.

The school was immediately placed on lockdown, as deputies with the HCSO and officers with the Church Hill Police Department responded to the area and immediately began searching for a potential active shooter.

“Numerous agencies from surrounding counties responded to assist in the search effort and the evacuation of students. After a thorough search was conducted, no threat was located. The call was determined to be a hoax.”

The initial investigation by the HCSO and TBI determined that the phone call originated from a number registered to a residence in Manitoba, Canada.

That information was provided to the RCMP, which identified the individual allegedly responsible.

The RCMP said on Twitter that “swatting” is the “practice of making a phone call falsely describing a life-threatening situation in order to provoke an armed police response. These situations create dangerous circumstances for the public” and “responding emergency personnel.”