At 5:14 p.m. Feb. 26, the Hays Police Department was dispatched to a reported disturbance at a house in the 2500 block of Pine Street. The caller, the Hays Police Department said Friday in a news release, claimed to be a child inside the house. The caller reported that seven people with guns had entered the residence and struck his father on the head.
Officers responded to the area and set up a perimeter in an effort to contain the threat.
Contact with a resident inside the house was made and it was determined to be a false report. Further investigation showed the call had been “spoofed” and that there was not a home invasion taking place as the call had indicated.
At this time, authorities believe this is an incident of “swatting.”
“Swatting” is a crime where an unknown person calls the police reporting a fake emergency that draws a high level response from law enforcement, including SWAT teams. The individuals who engage in this activity use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone. Sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank.
Either way, it is a serious crime, and one that has potentially dangerous consequences.
Most people involved in such prank calls are also involved in other criminal activity, such as identity theft and other computer-related crimes. Suspects of swatting could face federal criminal charges and some past cases have resulted in prison terms of 11 years.
This incident is being investigated by the Ellis County High Technology Crime Unit, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
• Submitted by Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler