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This crime is terrifying and it has happened here

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:22 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -“Swatting” is a worsening crime problem that has caused the death of one person and frightened others.

“Swatting is making a fake call to law enforcement about a very serious situation that is likely to bring about action from a SWAT team or a large number of officers,” is how Dothan Police Lieutenant Scott Owens describes the crime.

In Florida last week, a man called and told officers he had murdered his wife. Police rushed to a Sarasota area home where they found the supposed victim unharmed.

What makes that situation more frightening is the person who made that bogus call hijacked that home’s Ring doorbell and, when police arrived, shouted profanities at officers by using the that device’s speaker. A similar situation also happened this week in the Atlanta area.

While the number of swatting cases is on the rise, swatting is nothing new. Last December, Dothan police received a phone call from a man saying his son had shot a sibling. Officers rushed to a west Dothan home to find there had been no shooting.

The caller knew the names of those who lived at home, information that could have been obtained through online gaming.

Listen to swatting phone call made to Dothan police

In another swatting case, a bomb threat called into Dale High School forced the evacuation of students on faculty on October 27.

“Sometimes the crimes are committed because the swatter has animosity toward someone that would be affected while, in other cases, swatters only want to watch the law enforcement response,” Owens said.

In Kansas, police shot and killed Andrew Finch in 2017 after they responded to a swatter’s call. Finch wasn’t a gamer, and he had no ties to the person who placed that.

A serial swatter, Tyler Barriss, had called police to Finch’s home, wrongly believing another person he had been paid to swat lived there, per the Insider.

Among those charged with swatting is a 12-year old California boy while a Delaware man has begun serving a 37-month prison sentence for committing the crime.

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