Swatting—or placing false calls requesting emergency assistance– is illegal, according to the FBI. These harassing and deceptive emergency calls send response teams to various locations with claims that an emergency is underway. Although the prank calls send SWAT teams and others to a scene where nothing unusual is occurring, officers do not know that the location is actually safe. That means they arrive with weapons brandished– making the potential for accidents distressingly high.
Types of Calls
What kinds of phony emergency service calls are we talking about? Sometimes, callers claim there is a dangerous hostage situation unfolding; other times, they say there are bombs present in a building. Still other calls report rapes, murders, or other criminal activity.
A recent swatting case here in California involved a 19-year-old man who was stalking a young woman who was underage. The two had become acquainted online, and when things did not work out as planned, the man made multiple calls reporting bombs at the high school attended by the object of his attention. Although explosive devices were never discovered, the school was evacuated repeatedly as a safety measure, interrupting school programming and burning through police resources.
While it is true that many swatting calls focus on public areas like businesses, schools, and airports, there have been a number of recent swatting calls directed at the homes or offices of well-known politicians:
- Here in California, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis was the victim of a swatting call that reported a shooting in her San Francisco home.
- Rick Scott of Florida endured a swatting experience when an anonymous call came in reporting that a woman had been shot by her husband with an AR-15 at Scott’s home address.
- Republican Brandon Williams, from New York, was stunned when police notified him that they had received a call reporting a crisis in his home. When law enforcement arrived, the Williams family was directed to assemble in the kitchen and to keep their hands in view.
- The embattled secretary of state from Maine, Shenna Bellows, was swatted when a man claimed to have broken into her home.
- Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia’s federal House representative, claims to have been swatted as many as eight times, including on Christmas Day 2023.
If you have been charged with activities relating to prank 911 calls, you could be looking at serious changes to your lifestyle. The aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorneys at Boertje & Associates will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.