'Swatting' involves someone calling police to falsely report a crime in the hopes of drawing a tactical response team to someone's else's home.
The following is a news release from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office:
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a "swatting" incident that led the Sheriff's Office to send a tactical response team to 14 Ziegler Place in Palm Coast March 29.
“Swatting” involves someone calling law enforcement to falsely report an incident with the hopes of drawing a response from tactical officers.
According to the details of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office received a call on an administrative line in our communications section at approximately 9:12 p.m. March 29 from a caller who stated in a muffled voice that a relative had been shot in the home at 14 Ziegler Place.
When asked what had happened, the caller stated men armed with AK-47s entered the home and shot her relative. As communications personnel were still taking the call, a uniformed deputy arrived at the home and encountered a black male in the garage of the home.
When the deputy attempted to make contact with the man, he shut the garage door and subsequently refused to come out of the home.
With fully marked patrol cars at the home, deputies used their public address systems in their cars to have the man come out of the home.
They also knocked on the door and rang the doorbell several times. After approximately two hours of his refusing to make contact with deputies, the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team breached the front door and immediately made contact with the man who had been seen earlier in the garage.
According to the man, he was scared to come out because he was robbed by what he called “police” a short time ago in Daytona Beach and he feared he was being robbed once again.
The man quickly informed deputies that no crime had occurred in the home. A search of the home confirmed his statement.
It is important to note that at no time did he call 911 to report anyone at his home. He will not be charged. No one was found injured in the home.
Deputies determined the initial shooting call was made from a person calling from an unknown location.
The investigation is continuing to determine who made the call.
In addition to being illegal, these "swatting" pranks are associated with many dangers, Flagler County Sheriff James L. Manfre said.
“We have quick responses with lights and sirens and deploy specially trained deputies to address what is believed to be a high-profile incident," Manfre said. "We have the potential for an encounter with a citizen(s) who may not know a prank has been played on them. We also have to contend with the expenses generated from the incident to include fuel, overtime and materials used to properly handle the situation. This also takes away from our normal ability to serve other citizens in a timely fashion.”
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911, or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 (TIPS). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,000.