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Fake-Swatting Call Prompts Large Police Response Monday Evening In Hoquiam

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The Hoquiam Police Department said Tuesday morning in a social media post that on March 29, 2021, at 2238 hours, Hoquiam officers were dispatched to a reported stabbing in the 100 block of O Street.
 
The calling party reported he had stabbed his wife and was armed with a firearm, threatening to kill his children and shoot it out with police.
 
The caller then claimed he had discovered infidelity and had also shot a man inside his home.
The caller later claimed he had also planted pipe bombs in his vehicle out front of the residence.
Hoquiam officers surrounded the home assisted by officers from Aberdeen PD, deputies from the GH County Sheriff's Office and troopers from the Washington State Patrol. Given the nature of the report and what the caller was telling the dispatcher, officers suspected this could be a "swatting" hoax.

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What is Swatting?
--According to the FBI, "swatting" is a term used to describe a hoax call made to emergency services, typically reporting an immediate threat to human life, to draw a response from law enforcement and the S.W.A.T. team to a specific location. Confusion on the part of homeowners or responding officers has resulted in health-related or violent consequences and pulls limited resources away from valid emergencies.
 
--Swatting may be motivated by revenge, used as a form of harassment, or used as a prank, but it is a serious crime that may have potentially deadly consequences.
 
--Offenders often use spoofing technology to anonymize their own phone numbers to make it appear to first responders as if the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone number. This enhances their credibility when communicating with dispatchers.
Given these factors, officers maintained a safe position of cover around the residence and attempted to verify all the information provided by the caller.
 
Dispatch checked local police records for any past law or fire involvements at the residence, as well as the county assessor website to determine who the homeowners were for the location; dispatchers were able to locate a possible phone number for a resident, but unfortunately, no one answered.
 
Officers and dispatchers continued to call the phone number and officers then hailed the house with a PA system on a nearby patrol car. Eventually, they were able to wake a 15-year old inside who came out to see what was happening.
 
The resident confirmed her parents were inside, but she was not aware of any sort of altercation, argument, or shots being fired. She indicated they were sleeping and probably did not hear the cell phone ringing.
 
Again, suspecting the incident was a "swatting" call, officers maintained a perimeter and continued to attempt to roust the occupants of the house.
 
After waking up the residents, and most of the rest of the neighborhood, the startled and wide-eyed homeowners came outside and verified what officers had suspected...this was a "swatting" call and the entire incident was a vicious hoax.
 
Under city code, causing an unnecessary emergency response is a criminal offense. It is also a felony offense under federal law per 18 U.S. Code § 1038- False information and hoaxes. If harm occurs from one of these hoaxes, the punishment is up to 20-years in federal prison.
Our officers are aware of these "swatting" events around the country and thus employ safe patrol tactics and the benefit of time to assess the situation and determine if the call to 911 Dispatch is legitimate or not.
 
Detectives will be following up on this incident in an effort to identify the suspect for criminal charges.
 
The audio recording of the call to E911 Dispatch will be retained as evidence and a police report will also be filed with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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