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St. Louis schools react to a third hoax threat in two weeks

Sources tell 5 On Your Side someone called police Tuesday morning posing as a teacher at St. Mary's High School to report a shooting.

ST. LOUIS — Chris Waddy stood at the edge of St. Mary's High School property in St. Louis, his phone ringing with another concerned friend or family member on the other end.

"Everybody's calling me right now because I guess they are finding out gradually," he said.

Waddy rushed to St. Mary's Tuesday morning when his sophomore son, Jamarion, called him to say that there had been reports of a shooting on campus.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the message," Waddy said. "I just started putting on my clothes to come to get him so. Like any parent would be; frightened, scared. I was just trying to see what was going on."

Jamarion sent photos of his classmates waiting in a locker room and then the gymnasium. Police searched the building twice, only to find out the call that sent them there was a hoax.

A police source tells 5 On Your Side someone called the police department's non-emergency number posing as a teacher to say there were seven students shot in a second-floor biology classroom.

In an internal email this morning, acting Chief Mike Sack told SLMPD staff "We had this happen once before with very different and tragic results. Your training, professionalism, and courage are what make the difference."

It is the third time local students have endured a hoax threat in just two weeks.

And the threats come at a time when wounds are still fresh from the fatal shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

Police said Tuesday they identified the student behind the threat that emptied Marquette High School in Chesterfield Friday. Another student is suspected of a separate threat at the same school Thursday.

"They are not hard to track down. We do end up in the living room of that family generally within a matter of hours if not days," Jay Greenberg, Special Agent in Charge of FBI St. Louis, said. "There is always a great team deal of shame that gets expressed. Families are mortified that we are there knocking on their door to talk about resources that their child wasted and the concern that they drew in the community."

Greenberg said they've gotten dozens of tips to their hotline since the CVPA shooting. Many of the hoaxes come from kids. But what may start as a joke comes with serious consequences: federal charges that could result in a 5-year sentence.

As he steps on school property to pick up his son, Waddy said there's a lot to be thankful for before the holiday break.

"We do. We definitely do," he said, adding "thankfully nothing did not happen so going forward we will try to move cautiously."

The FBI continues to take tips regarding the CVPA shooting and other threats. For more information, click here.

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