AR-15 'swatting' hoax prompts large Fla. police response
A 911 caller led police to an Oviedo subdivision Friday morning after falsely reporting that a shooter armed with an AR-15 rifle shot and killed someone
By Tiffany Walden
OVIEDO, Fla. — A 911 caller led police to an Oviedo subdivision Friday morning after falsely reporting that a shooter armed with an AR-15 rifle shot and killed someone.
No one was wounded or dead inside the Running Springs Loop home.
In fact, the two people inside were actually sound asleep, Oviedo police Lt. Mike Beavers said.
After two hours, detectives determined the two were victims of "swatting," which means someone used a smart phone or tablet application to anonymously call 911 and report a fake emergency .
"Using that app, they're able to disguise where the call is coming from," Beavers said.
It's a popular prank commonly used against celebrities with homes in California.
Singer Justin Timberlake, actor Tom Cruise and reality-TV family The Kardashian-Jenners have been "swatted" before, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"I guess it first became popular out in California, where people try to get a huge police response to a celebrity's home," Beavers said.
"That's kind of the challenge."
Friday's emergency call came in just before 4 a.m.
The apparent severity of the situation prompted a collaborative response from the Oviedo and Winter Springs police departments and Seminole County Sheriff's Office.
"I would estimate that there were probably between 20 to 30 law enforcement officers out there," Beavers said.
Once the agencies surrounded the house, they used a PA system to try to get a response from someone inside the house.
Then, they tried calling the residents' phones.
Eventually, one of the residents came to the door and the house was searched.
"As soon as they came to the door, for safety reasons, they were secured to make sure they didn't have any weapons," Beavers said. "I can imagine that they were very surprised and nervous about the situation."
The crime scene was ruled a hoax just after 6 a.m.
Oviedo detectives are now working to track down the person who made the prank call.
"Given the level of response, and the cost involved, they could be facing felony charges," he said.
Copyright 2014 The Orlando Sentinel
McClatchy-Tribune News Service