SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A few tense moments in a San Jose neighborhood Wednesday evening, after a 911 call of a home invasion and burglary.
But the call ended up being bogus. It’s part of a new fad called “Swatting.” San Jose police units converge at a house in the 200-block of North 11th Street, shortly before 5 p.m. Officers quickly deploy and duck behind cars and trees for cover, with one wearing tactical gear and pointing the business end of an AR-15 at a target. The 911 call that brought them claimed a home invasion and robbery by armed men.. But it wasn’t true, it was a hoax.
“We just got swatted. I didn’t think that would happen. But that’s the reality I’m dealing with,” said Matt Stillman, the target of the prank call to police.
He says he was inside writing code with friends when police called, asked if armed men were holding them hostage, then ordered all five people out with their hands behind their backs..
“They were very professional about the whole thing and saying, this is why we have to do this,” said Stilman.
Swatting – making a false call to police about a crime in progress to prompt a tactical response – has become an unwanted fad. Last month, the Stauffer family experienced the aftermath of “Swatting” when police surrounded their Novato home.
“They asked me if I heard gunshots. I said no. they said we’ll we have to go to the backyard,” said a neighbor at the time..
That call ended without incident. But in December in Wichita, Kansas, a 28-year-old lost his life after an argument over online gaming led to “swatting,” and police fatally shooting the unknowing, unarmed victim.. Various South Bay police departments tell KTVU they’re aware of this growing problem, and it’s effect on policing.
“It can have a significant drain on resources until we figure out it was a crank call, and can begin clearing officers,” said a spokesman for the Palo Alto police department.
Back on North 11th Street, Stillman spent a few minutes talking to officers before returned home. He suspects the orchestrator of his “Swatting” call is a disgruntled neighbor.
“Cause he’s a hater. And he tried to run me over with his car a couple of months ago. Wanna be a gang-banger who can’t do anything with his life,” said Stillman.
Police have not identified the origin of the call, but are investigating. Various departments say the impact of this kind of prank depends on how many resources are mobilized, and the size of the effected police force.