Cops still looking for caller from Belleair Elementary lockdown - WFLA News Channel 8

Cops still looking for caller from Belleair Elementary lockdown

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CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

Clearwater Police are still looking for the person who pulled a cruel hoax Tuesday: Dialing 911 and saying there was an active shooter on Belleair Elementary School's campus.

"We were all paranoid. Everybody was rushing over there," said Dreona Ricks, who has nieces at the school. "People - seriously - were crying because their kids are in the school and we don't know what's going on."

The hoax came into Pinellas County's dispatch center from a cell phone that operators couldn't call back. Students were about to dismiss, creating even more of a ruckus in the lockdown.

"We sent all of our resources immediately to that location," Elizabeth Watts, spokeswoman for Clearwater Public Safety. "Improper use of the 911 system is really putting it lightly when you consider the fact that someone would call in and say something like that was occurring at an elementary school."

In the weeks after the killing at Sandy Hook - districts all across the Bay area were on high alert, especially after local copycat threats.

"The first two weeks - we received a lot of similar complaints as they had in Clearwater...a lot of threats of violence and mass shooters," said Capt. Chad Chronister of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "But within that two week time frame after Sandy Hook - it's significantly been reduced since then." 

Still officers and deputies across the Bay area are training more for the worst cast scenario. Hillsborough County is also working with elementary schools down to the details of how tall shrubbery is outside.

"Visual blockings ... unsecured doors - trying to focus on one entry, one exit to limit the flow of people coming in and out of the school," explained Chronister.

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