Police responded to a Vernon elementary school Monday afternoon to investigate what turned out to be a false report of shots fired in Manchester less than a mile down the road, according to police and the school superintendent.
Lake Street School at 201 Lake Street in Vernon was dismissed as scheduled on Monday, but police arrived at the school as a precaution after receiving the report of shots fired just over the town line, the superintendent said.
Manchester police said they received the emergency call just after 2 p.m. on Monday.
The caller said he heard shots fired inside a home on Deer Run Trail and someone screaming, according to police.
"There's a shooting at... Deer Run Trail," the caller said. "There's like 10 shots gone off."
The dispatcher asked for more information and the line went dead.
Officers arrived to find resident David Henderson home alone.
Henderson says he was in bed recovering from the flu when police appeared at his door, handcuffed him and put him in a cruiser.
"There were two cops running across the yard with their guns out," said Henderson, who was confused about the commotion. "I thought they must be looking for a criminal that's right here. I had no idea the criminal they were looking for was me."
Police realized the report had been a hoax, a tactic known as "swatting," when people falsely report an incident to bring first responders to a non-existent scene.
"A serious crime could have been committed while all these officers were busy fighting a hoax," said Manchester Police Captain Christopher Davis. "It's an extremely frustrating situation with very serious consequences."
Davis said the call was placed to the records division rather than 911, then transferred to dispatch, indicating it may not have been made locally.
"I don't kno wif this was a random thing or a targeted incident," Davis said. "These are obviously some of the questions we want to find out."
There was never any danger to the public or students at the school nearby, according to police. No one was injured and police are investigating the false report. Police stayed at the elementary school Monday afternoon to help with the dismissal process.
Henderson calls the incident "embarrassing and humiliating."