PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT)- A possible double murder call came to the Pender County 911 center in March. It was an intoxicated man, saying he had just shot his wife and would kill his son if the cops didn't come in the next 5 minutes-- but it was all a prank.
Several units arrived to the area of the call including the Pender County Sheriff's Office NC State Highway Patrol, Pender EMS, and Surf City Fire Department. However, no one could seem to find the address the caller stated. The general area was sealed off and law enforcement spoke with several neighbors of the caller -- they all attested that the said address didn't exist.
As it turns out, the caller was using a technique known as ‘swatting.' This is where a person makes contact to 911 via electronic means to a communication service which then relays the call to a 911 center to make a false report. Often at times, the reports are frantic, serious, and draw a heavy law enforcement, or "swat team" response.
Less than a week earlier, a similar incident happened—only this time the prank traced all the way to Canada.
Surf City patrol units responded to a burglary in progress involving three suspects and a weapon involved. Dispatch had advised that a shot had been fired and that an older gentleman had been shot and was on the ground.
When several law enforcement units showed up to the scene, they carefully observed the house and saw a young girl sitting on a bed through a window. She seemed to be unharmed. An older man soon after stuck his head out of the door and was greeted with a gun to the face. Officers ordered him and his wife outside and subsequently frisked them.
The man and woman expressed confusion as to what was going on and officers eventually searched the home, making their way into the grandson's room -- he was on his computer.
It was the determined that the call to the 911 center was a hoax initiated by a 14-year-old male in Canada. He had obtained the 16-year-old grandson's Surf City address information online, through a live video game.
"Swatting is not only extremely dangerous but a huge drain on resources. So we will do whatever we can to catch those who are doing this," said District Attorney, Ben David.
David has already talked to Senator Thom Goolsby and the DA's office is continuing to make strides within the Conference of District Attorneys-- all in the attempt to change the way they punish swatting. Ben David wants to see if other jurisdictions in the state are facing this issue, so they can try to change the charge of 911 misuse from a misdemeanor to a felony.
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