LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Someone makes a prank call to first responders claiming that there is a threat to public safety. The caller may say they are involved, nearby or heard something. It’ll be something big like an active shooter, home evasion or a hostage situation to get a large police response.
In reality, it’s all made up, and often the victim is put into a traumatic situation where they are held at gunpoint by police.
This is called swatting.
"If they are getting called and are headed out across town and then something happens on the other side of town, they don’t have enough people. Now you’re wasting the time of someone’s life who could be in danger," said Ronald Long, the COO of KellyCorps LLC, an elite security company in Las Vegas.
"These swatting incidents that keep going on are going to cause someone to lose their life unnecessarily," Long said.
Oftentimes, the callers use different techniques to mask their identity and make it hard to trace them.
Around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, a Southeast Career Technical Academy student received a text from someone claiming to bring a gun to school. She frantically called the police and authorities jumped into action. However, the treat turned out to be fake.
"On further investigation on the text message that the student got we believe this is a swatting event," said Clark County School District Police Lt. Bryan Zink, "to either get law enforcement to interact with them negatively at their resident or, as we’ve seen in the school district a few times, at school."
Swatting incidents differ from other types of threats to public safety such as Terroristic threats, for example. This could be if someone was told by another person they were going to bring a gun to school or someone posts on the internet they are going to shoot up a place.
Those are examples of terroristic threats. With swatting, you often can’t verify a point source.
Either way, first responders always have to treat the situation as if it were real because you never know for certain.
"These are gun-free zones. If it’s a gun-free zone and someone has a gun and wants to start shooting and doesn’t want anyone to shoot back he’s probably going to the gun-free zone, which would be a school, unfortunately," said Long.
After the police deemed the threat fake, classes resumed and parents had the option to take their kids home.