Dangerous ‘swatting' call pranks victim and law enforcement

Dangerous ?€˜swatting' call pranks victim and law enforcement

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — An emergency caller said a man had assaulted his girlfriend, planned to kill her and burn down the house.

Moments later, 40 people rushed to the scene, including sheriff's deputies, police officers, firefighters and first responders.

They set up a staging area and called in negotiators.

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"When these calls come in saying there's a major event, we're going in, running to danger, expecting the worst," York County Sheriff's Deputy Trent Faris said.

The call to Galway Lane near the state line, however, wasn't real. There wasn’t an emergency or domestic violence incident. No one was even home.

It was the latest in what's become a national problem, called "swatting," which is when someone makes a prank call to draw a large law enforcement response.

The call came in Tuesday afternoon came to a nonemergency number at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and was passed to York County authorities.

Authorities said it's a dangerous prank and not a joke to law enforcement.

Victims usually have no idea their address is being targeted.

In March, Channel 9 reported about a “swatting” case in Stanly County.  The caller said he had killed his wife, tied up his children and would shoot any officer who came near the home. When police arrived at the house in Locust, the man who lived there had no idea.

Police startled him at his door.

The man and he those who responded realized they were “swatted.”

In York County, it was about 45 minutes before deputies knew that the call outside Clover was fake. It's a waste of time, and people could be hurt or killed, authorities said.

"Some people prank call their friends,” Faris said. “Some just prank call anybody just to mobilize a full law enforcement agency SWAT team.”

York County sheriff's deputies said this prank call was made from a voice over internet protocol app.  They said it's difficult but not impossible to trace the call, which is part of the investigation.

It's not clear why the house on Galway Lane was targeted. Deputies interviewed the homeowners and neighbors but found no clues on who was responsible.