DANVERS — The area surrounding St. John’s Prep was teeming with police, fire and ambulance personnel amid a report of an active shooter on campus at Benjamin Hall Monday afternoon.
The sounds of sirens filled the air as state and local police from surrounding communities responded, including at least six unmarked cruisers.
But school officials now say this incident was a false alarm, according to a statement on the school's website.
"We believe that St. John's was the victim of a swatting call," the statement said. "Everyone is safe, there have been no injuries and police are currently clearing campus buildings as we account for all students."
State police said officers made immediate entry to the building and have not identified any threats at this time. As of 2:20 p.m. police were doing secondary sweeps of the campus. Officials said they are not aware of any injuries via the State Police Twitter account.
At 1:49 p.m., several dozen state police troopers arrived on campus. Students, faculty and staff were ordered to shelter in place. At about 2:30 p.m. a Topsfield police officer wearing a bullet-proof vest said parents were being instructed to go to Stop & Shop in a nearby plaza where Marblehead police were stationed.
Meanwhile, parents remained parked throughout the neighborhood, exiting quickly from their cars, some leaving their doors open.
The scene was chaotic as people rushed around in confusion.
“Do you know what’s going on?” a woman asked a Salem News reporter.
"I realized that this is really unsettling and jarring and challenging," Head of School Edward Hardiman said in a video posted to the school's website Monday afternoon.
The school followed its lockdown procedures "the moment that we got wind of what was happening," Hardiman said.
"We appreciate your patience, understand your concern and anxiety and ask that you please pray for the law enforcement people that are here, pray for our students and our staff and pray for each other as we realize that this is a challenging and traumatic experience for everyone to go through," he said.