Weatherford Democrat

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August 7, 2013

SWATTED

Police doubt charges will come in case of phone hoax call that led officers to surround local home

By CHRISTIN COYNE

An apparent prank call that led police officers to surround a Weatherford family’s house and wake them up in the middle of the night last week isn’t likely to lead to local prosecution.

Providing an address of a home on Charlie Way in the Bedinger Place subdivision, a caller reportedly told police shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday that a man had chopped his wife’s head off, cut his children’s hands off and was holding the family hostage with an AK-47.

Attempting to check on the occupants’ welfare, Weatherford patrol officers formed a perimeter around the house and attempted to make contact with those inside the home over a loudspeaker.

The homeowner said he was awakened by the phone ringing. Police were on the line and told him to come out of the house with his hands in the air.

Officers quickly realized they didn’t have the situation the caller described.

The phone number appears to have originated out of Phoenix and shows to have been used in numerous scams and hoaxes, according to Weatherford Police CID Sgt. John Rudolph.

Weatherford police will likely forward their case file to Phoenix police, who have jurisdiction in the area, he said.

Because it’s a misdemeanor false alarm offense, it’s not likely anybody would be brought from out of state to face charges locally, according to police.

Federal authorities have also been targeting false emergency reports that can lead to potentially dangerous situations while tying up police resources.

The FBI warned about what they called “the new phenomenon of ‘swatting’” in a 2008 press release. One victim, who had been asleep with his family, brought a kitchen knife to check out a noise outside his house only to find SWAT rifles aimed at him.

Swatting, or reporting a false emergency to authorities that provokes a significant law enforcement response, such as dispatching SWAT teams, has made national news in recent months with many celebrities, such as Justin Beiber, Ryan Seacrest, Ashton Kutcher and Rihanna, targeted.

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