(WATCH) Swatting

You’ve heard of police SWAT teams. SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics, by the way. Today, authorities are trying to combat a crime that’s being called “swatting.” It’s when somebody falsely reports an emergency at somebody else’s house to embarrass or inconvenience the victim, or even bring him into a potentially violent confrontation with police. Lisa Fletcher reports more states are trying to combat the problem.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott is no stranger to controversy, criticism, and even threats. Before coming to Washington, he spent eight years as the Sunshine State’s governor.

But last Christmas, he and his family faced something new.

A caller to Naples police reported a shooting at the senator’s home. Police responded but also called Senator Scott directly to find out what was going on.

Senator Rick Scott: Usually, I’m home by then, but we hadn’t gotten home that night, so they called me to tell me that somebody was in my house; they were holding the hostages. And so because the law enforcement knew me, they could call me on my cell, and then I said, “Okay, we’re not there.”

Scott and his family had been swatted. Someone reported a fake emergency, hoping to trigger a SWAT team response.

Lisa: You were immediately suspicious?

Scott: Oh yeah. It didn’t make any sense. And now, fortunately, we weren’t there, but if we’d been in the house and they couldn’t have gotten a hold of me, then I would’ve had somebody break into my house that I have no idea who they are. But their goal was that I would be harmed, my wife would be harmed, or law enforcement would be harmed.

Just a few days before the incident at Senator Scott’s home, Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was swatted. On Christmas day, police came to her home, after someone falsely claimed a man had shot someone at Greene’s house.

Greene wrote on X that she and her family had been targeted numerous times.

The danger from false calls is that responding police use lethal force when there’s no emergency.

That happened in 2017, when a Los Angeles man called police in Kansas and claimed there had been a shooting at a house in Wichita.

Officers responded, and when a man who lived there but had no connection to the caller came out, he was shot by an officer who thought he had a weapon.

The man later died, and two years later, Tyler Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison for making the hoax call, which had been promoted by an argument over a video game.

Lisa: Any sense of why there’s a rise in these kinds of incidents?

John McCarthy: Well, I think some of it, quite candidly, the organized swatting, which has common themes, may have a root in politics.

John Mccarthy is the chief prosecutor in Montgomery County, Maryland, a wealthy suburban area of north Washington, D.C., and the backdrop for several high-profile swatting incidents, including that of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is bringing a criminal case against Donald Trump.

McCarthy: I do think it’s a measure of, I think, harassing individuals if their political persuasion or their role in a political issue is one that you don’t agree with. So this becomes a tool, a tool to use against them.

McCarthy says swatting is not only extremely dangerous; it also exhausts strained resources. But prosecuting offenders is tough too, because many are juveniles.

Lisa: One of the things I noticed when I was researching this story is how many of these incidents end up being a 15-year-old, or a 17-year-old.

McCarthy: If you’ve had a 17, 16-year-old kid who gets involved in this because they don’t want to take their math exam, and you say there’s a bomb in the high school, and everybody has to go home for two days, besides the cost of it, I think there should be more accountability. I think we should be looking at that in some appropriate cases, particularly when it comes to our schools, because schools have been targeted and, more often than not, it’s kids that are doing it.

Less than a year ago, Maryland became one of the latest states to pass an anti-swatting law that escalates penalties if the swatting results in injury or death.

The FBI began tracking swatting cases last year.

In December, they reported nearly 200 incidents over just three days, targeting Jewish institutions.

Senator Rick Scott has introduced federal legislation to target swatting specifically.

Lisa: Do you know who was behind the attack on you?

Scott: No. Hopefully, they’ll find ’em. Hopefully, they’ll go to prison. What these people are doing is wrong. It’s evil. But they want people to get harmed.

Sharyl (on-camera): And new threats against Jewish institutions now?

Lisa: Yeah. In just the last few weeks, FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned against increased threats, especially as we’re heading into the Jewish Passover holiday, and that includes hoax threats, which can lead to swatting incidents.

Watch video here.

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1 thought on “(WATCH) Swatting”

  1. Sadly we have morally lost our way. To many parents not parenting, respect for one another gone, church membership way down. Is it any wonder society has become morally bankrupt?

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