CARMEL, Ind. — 'Swatting,' or making false 911 calls that trigger heavy response by police, is a growing concern and is becoming more common in other areas outside of Los Angeles, a popular target of prank SWAT calls.
Last Tuesday in Carmel, Ind., Hannah Chiasson, her father, and her friend suddenly found their home surrounded by SWAT members and were promptly removed from their home and placed in handcuffs, because they were victims of a false 911 call, according to The Indy Star.
One of the largest growing trends among pranksters is a hoax known an swatting — a false emergency call to police.
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"I asked, 'Why are you pointing guns at me?' " she recalled. " 'Why are you doing this?' "
Police had received reports of a shooting at the home.
"You don't want to let your guard down or be less tactical in a situation where you have to be," Carmel police Lt. Joe Bickel told the Star, explaining that police aren’t able to judge the veracity of a call in an emergency situation when they are trained to handle every call as though it’s real.
‘Swatters’ are able to use technology that makes the incoming 911 call look like it’s coming from the home of the victim, and is often done through a system that turns typed messages into voice messages.
Another ‘swatting’ incident occurred just days earlier in another Indiana town, according to the report, in which an hours-long standoff took place because the family didn’t trust that the SWAT unit or the dispatchers were really police. The family, who hasn’t been identified for their protection, were being harassed by the pranksters over the phone before police arrived.
Police from multiple agencies thought they were responding to a hostage situation.
Video shows police response as they surround the targeted home.
"I have five hostages at my house at this moment. I have two AR-52s, AK-47s and C-4 (explosives) all around my house," the caller told police, giving them the address of the family.
Zionsville Capt. Doug Gauthier said the situation put police, the family, and the public in danger.
"Obviously, it could've been a serious situation," Gauthier said. "It was dangerous all the way around. ... Thank goodness it turned out the way it did."
The dispatcher convinced the family to exit the home after the father hung up and redialed 911 to confirm he was speaking with a real dispatcher.
The homeowner said he is working with an FBI contact to pursue those who made the false report.