Hercules family falls victim to dangerous Swatting prank
HERCULES, Calif. (Rob Roth/KTVU) - On normally quiet North Front Street in Hercules, a family remains traumatized by what appears to be a very dangerous prank called Swatting.
The family asked we not identify them.
"I'm traumatized. I'm not sure if we were targets specifically or just a random prank. I'm just confused," said the wife and mother.
Police say just before midnight, on December 27, they received an emergency call.
"...that he had heard shots and this mother was screaming and that he was hiding and that heard noises. Then he whispered they're coming and the operator heard screams," said Hercules Police Detective Connie Van Putten.
The caller gave the address of the home on North Front Street. Inside were parents, grandparents and two young children.
Police from Hercules and Pinole responded and ordered them out of the house, guns drawn.
"I had guns pointed at my face. My son had guns pointed at his face. The police apprehended us. I'm asking what's going on," said the mother.
The husband came out in his bathrobe but would not comply with an officer's request to open his robe. He didn't want to make any moves.
"I was afraid of getting shot for being in an innocent man in his home," he said.
Officers handcuffed the father and grandfather while they searched the house. They found nothing and let the family back inside.
The family says police never identified themselves initially, and that led to their fear.
"It was definitely the scariest position I have ever been in. And to have the whole family go through it," said the father.
Police say they did identify themselves. Police too are victims of Swatting pranks.
Swatting is when a caller purposely calls in a hoax, often requiring a police SWAT team to respond.
"It does look like a prank and meets the criteria for some other Swatting incidents that have been out there," said Van Putten.
The day after the Hercules case, Wichita, Kansas police shot and killed an innocent victim man who too, was an apparent victim of a prank call.
"We will continue to look into it to see if there is any connection," said Van Putten.
"I don't feel safe in my own house. They don't have anyone detained," said the father.
The family says it wants people to know that Swatting is real, very dangerous and that if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone.