St. John’s, Franklin students safe after shooter threat determined to be ‘hoax’

  • Police stand outside St. John's School in Concord on Thursday after an investigation of an active shooter threat. Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • Police stand outside St. John's School in Concord on Thursday after an investigation of an active shooter threat. Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • A parent and student wait to go back into St. John’€™s School among the Concord police presence after an active shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Parents and students wait to go back into St. John’s School among Concord police presence after an active shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Parents and students wait to go back into St. John’s School among Concord police presence after an active shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Concord police stand outside St. John’€™s School in Concord after a school shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Parents and students wait to go back into St. John’€™s School as Concord police monitor the parking lot after an active shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord police stand outside St. John’€™s School in Concord after a school shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A Concord policeman walk outside St. John’€™s School in Concord after a school shooter hoax was called in on Thursday morning, December 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • David Thibault (left), the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Manchester, and Concord Deputy Police Chief John Thomas talk with the media in front of St. John’s School. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Published: 12/8/2022 10:54:04 AM

Students at St. John’s Regional School are safe Thursday after an active shooting threat reported to Concord Police was later determined to be a hoax.

Concord Deputy Police Chief John Thomas said his department received a phone call around 9:50 a.m. Thursday from a caller claiming to be inside St. John’s School, saying students had been shot.

Yet when Concord Police arrived at the scene two minutes later, they found all of St. John’s students and faculty were safe next door at the Christ the King Parish, celebrating a Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Officers from Concord Police, state police and other jurisdictions remained on the scene and searched the St. John’s School building, but found nothing of concern.

The St. John’s incident was one of multiple shooter threats that were called in at schools throughout New Hampshire on Thursday, which the state determined to be part of a series of false reports.

“We have deemed it as a hoax,” Deputy Chief Thomas said. “Unfortunately this disrupts schools throughout the state, it disrupts public services. It’s unfortunate, but it is a happy ending. Nobody was hurt or injured.”

David Thibault, the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Manchester, said St. John’s officials were not aware any threat had been made until police arrived. He said students remained in the parish building while police investigated.

“I want to thank all the teachers, faculty and staff. They did a great job keeping the kids calm and all the parents,” Thibault said. “I’m so thankful for how it was handled. They already finished Mass. The kids practiced their lessons and carols while they waited and did a fabulous job of staying calm and staying put.”

By 11 a.m., students were being allowed back into the school building, and many parents picked students up.

The New Hampshire Department of Safety announced Thursday morning that the calls reporting active shooter threats went out to schools throughout the state.

“At this time, these reports are believed to be a hoax,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement. “However, all threats will be taken seriously until such time as their validity is determined. All state agencies are coordinating in this response, and we remain on top of this situation. We would like to thank all local partners for their diligence in responding across the state.”

Four schools in the Concord School District that were near to St. John’s Regional went into lockdown Thursday morning in response to the threat. The district announced the lockdown in a social media post at 10:17 a.m. that Concord High School, Rundlett Middle School, Abbot-Downing School and Christa McAuliffe School were in a “soft lockdown,” not allowing anyone in or out of the buildings. The lockdown was lifted by 11 a.m.

Thomas said St. John’s Regional School was the only school in the Concord-area that received a threat.

Franklin Police Department also received a false report of a shooting at Franklin High School on Thursday. Police evacuated students from the building, while putting Franklin Middle and Paul Smith Elementary on precautionary lockdown, according to a statement from Superintendent Dan LeGallo. After it was determined that there was no threat, Franklin High School students were released for the day.

“I want to commend our students, staff, parents, and police department for their swift actions and response to this incident this morning,” LeGallo said.

Other New Hampshire schools, including ones in Portsmouth, Dover, Claremont and Lebanon, also received threats Thursday.

Multiple state agencies assisted local law enforcement agencies with initial investigations of the threats, according to the Department of Safety, and the NH Information Analysis Center was heavily involved in coordinating the investigations. The department is encouraging people to report any suspicious activity to their local law enforcement agency.

Thibault said the diocese will be offering counseling to St. John’s Regional School students in the aftermath of the incident.

“We will have counselors here and we will make sure that when the kids come back they have the opportunity to process,” Thibault said.


Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.



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