Congresswoman Summer Lee speaks out on House floor about hoax shooting reports (Trib Live)

Mar 30, 2023
In the News

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-Swissvale, decried Wednesday’s hoax shooting reports that shut down schools in Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvania communities in remarks on the House floor.

“Active shootings aren’t normal. Shooting hoaxes aren’t normal. The evacuations and drills are not normal. There’s nothing about this that’s normal,” Lee said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, local police and first responders locked down Oakland Catholic and Central Catholic high schools in Pittsburgh after fake reports of active shooters were called in at the schools.

Pittsburgh police said they realized the reports were fake within one minute but carried out the lockdowns and evacuations as a precaution. Other schools across the state, including ones in Western Pennsylvania, received similar fake reports.

Lee said having to endure active shootings and related evacuations, drills and hoaxes is “no way for our kids to live.”

She said Pittsburgh students and teachers barricaded themselves in classrooms using furniture and weren’t allowed to make noise while they waited to receive reports that their schools were safe. She added that students were advised to potentially fight back with chemicals or rods found in classrooms.

The false active shooter reports happened two days after a mass shooter in Nashville shot and killed 6 people at a Christian school.

Lee, whose district includes Pittsburgh, eastern Allegheny County suburbs, the Mon Valley and parts of Westmoreland County, said students have been traumatized by these hoax reports — especially because they occurred so close to the Nashville shooting.

She pleaded for people to think about the situation the students were in and that the teachers had to respond to and the feeling of helplessness felt by parents and family members. Parents told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday that they were frightened and rushed to Oakland after learning about the reports.

“I really won’t feel relief until he is standing in front of me,” Munhall’s Chris Shrieve said Wednesday morning. Shrieve’s son attends Central Catholic.

Lee said the proliferation of guns in America is to blame for causing the widespread panic of the fake active shooting reports.

“So thankfully, today, it wasn’t dead children back home in Pittsburgh. It was ‘just’ traumatized children,” Lee said. “It does not have to be this way. And it wouldn’t be this way.”

She blamed Republicans for their support of guns and loosening gun restrictions.

Some Republicans have called for increased security measures and harsh prosecutions in the wake of the fake shooting reports. U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters, did not issue public comments on the hoaxes.

U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Aspinwall, a Navy veteran, said on Twitter that assault weapons “belong on the battlefield, not in the classroom.” He agreed with Lee that even fake shooting reports have a big impact on communities because mass shootings happen too often in America.

He joined a group of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday in calling for an assault weapons ban and background checks for every gun sale

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