BRISTOL, Tenn. — A false call about a shooting Tuesday turned out to be a case of “swatting,” a spokesman for the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said.
Capt. Andy Seabolt said 911 dispatch received an emergency call stating that someone had been shot and the shooter would not come out of the home. Officers arrived at the home on Broyles Lane and created a perimeter around the area, Seabolt said.
The officers verified that there was no shooting after speaking to those identified in the initial call, Seabolt said.
Investigators learned that this was a “swatting” incident, which occurs when a phone call is made to appear as if it came from a local residence.
“Swatting” is falsely reporting an emergency to public safety with the intent of getting a (SWAT team) response to a location where no emergency exists, according to the National 911 Program. In the past, “swatting” incidents across the country have resulted in arrests, injuries and deaths.
“To my knowledge, we have not received calls like this before,” Seabolt said.
Investigators were still trying to determine where the call originated late Tuesday.
Those who attempt to cause a “swatting” incident use several techniques, such as caller ID spoofing, teletypewriter relay technologies and social engineering, the National 911 Program reports. They will often have a realistic scenario and sometimes use personal information.
The national program says people do it for “fun” and view it as a prank, while other times it is used as retaliation for a real or perceived issue with the victim. Several public figures and celebrities have been victims of “swatting.”
As a result of Tuesday’s call, a large emergency response was dispatched to the home, but Seabolt did not have information about those involved readily available.
“There was a larger concentration of officers due to the reported situation,” he said.
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