Santa Barbara Police Department | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

[Updated: Jan. 20, 2023: 6:45pm]

The Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) and two private schools in the city were the latest victims of a recent rash of hoax emergency calls in the area over the past several months.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has received a total of four false bomb threats to the community in the past 24 hours, SBPD spokesperson Lt. Kasi Corbett said in a statement Friday afternoon, including three threats to “local schools or businesses and one involving the Santa Barbara Police Department.”  

While the statement did not explicitly name any of targets aside from SBPD itself, Corbett said in a follow-up email exchange with the Independent that the EF International Language School, a private English language school on Chapala Street, received two of the bomb threats, and Notre Dame School, a private Catholic school at 33 East Micheltorena Street with students from preschool age to 8th grade, was the other school targeted in the bomb scares.

Corbett said the department immediately responded to each incident, “conducting thorough searches of the locations,” which included the “use of bomb detection dogs and, at times, evacuations.” “No bombs or similar devices were located,” Corbett said, and “there is no reason to believe these threats are credible.”

These four hoax calls are only the most recent in a string of illegal “swatting” incidents in the area in recent months. In December, the private Santa Barbara Middle School was evacuated after a false bomb threat was phoned into the main office. Prior to that, Bishop Diego High School was the victim of a hoax active shooter call on September 14, 2022, which resulted in the school being evacuated and nearby Hope Elementary being placed on lockdown. The Bishop Diego hoax call was one of several similar threats made to California schools that day.

The department is investigating the calls and has notified the FBI. Anyone with information should call the SBPD at (805) 882-8900.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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