A prank call could have gotten a lot of people hurt, police said after Byram police and the Hinds County Metro SWAT team responded to a home in force early Friday morning.
Chief David Errington said 911 received a call that a man had shot his children and barricaded himself in the bedroom with an AR-15. Other officers and the SWAT team were also called out.
Errington said when officers got to the scene, they tried to make contact with someone inside the home. They also began to gather intelligence on the owners of the home, and they were able to find a land line number. They called it and the homeowner answered and assured them nothing had happened.
Officials then confirmed the homeowner’s story and listened to the recorded 911 call and compared it against the voice of the female resident of the home and the voices were different, Errington said. The phone did ping in the area, but couldn’t be isolated to one particular home.
Errington called the situation “very serious,” saying the residents were understandably upset that someone would do that to them.
“It’s also disturbing knowing that someone would do this to activate these resources, Errington said.
The act of calling police and other emergency services to another person’s address with a false report of a serious law enforcement emergency is known as “Swatting.” It is illegal, but some states have increased penalties against those convicted of swatting.
Errington said he doesn’t know if it would have been an attempt to actually “swat” the residents of that address because they would have been a strange target.
In 2017, a Wichita police officer fatally shot Andrew Finch in his Kansas home in a swatting incident. A 25-year-old serial swatter named Tyler Raj Barriss was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 20 years in prison. That’s just one example.
Errington said police are also checking into other possible crimes in the area in case the call was a diversion tactic to keep the police busy.
This case is under investigation.