When I was young my dad would encourage me to browse the dictionary and learn a new word every day. While I've largely given up the practice, I still get excited when a new term is introduced into my vocabulary. And today's new term is a dandy: "Swatting."
According to KING 5 News, police representing a slew of local law enforcement agencies surrounded a home in Kingston Saturday after receiving a series of TTY texts reporting a man in the home had shot his daughter. The texts came from someone claiming to be the man's son, who reported being holed up in the bathroom. As the report notes, TTY 911 texts are usually reserved for the hearing-impaired.
KING 5 describes the scene as law enforcement converged en masse:
Police responded in full force, including officers from Kitsap County, Bainbridge Police, the Suquamish Tribe and the North Kitsap Fire Department.
A man spotted outside the home was ordered to show his hands and get on the ground, which he did. His two sons were also ordered out of the home. The father was handcuffed and read his rights.
After deputies checked the home and discovered the man didn't have a daughter, he was released.
So what the hell happened? As it turns out, police believe a suspect in British Columbia, who had been playing an online game with one of the two boys who live at the Kingston home, got upset after apparently being kicked off the gaming website. In retaliation this suspect engaged in some good ol' fashioned swatting - texting police with false allegations designed to unleash a massive police response.
And it worked.
A little Internet digging reveals swatting isn't exactly a new phenomenon. It's been going on for a while. Blogger Patterico was the victim of swatting in July of last year, and he describes the scary-as-hell event here, with audio below.
Not surprisingly, swatting has law enforcement concerned. More from KING 5:
[Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson] said such tactics are very concerning because of all the risks and costs that go with it, including several emergency responders speeding to a scene. Plus, they are responding to a false alarm when they may be needed someplace else.
Wilson tells KING 5 that he's not sure what, if any, charges will be brought against the suspected swatter (can I do that?) because of the fact the suspect is from Canada.
Not to give any devious Canadians funny ideas, mind you ...