Marin County Family Falls Victim To ‘Swatting,’ Hoax 911 Calls Become Growing Problem For Police
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FAIRFAX (KPIX 5) — Hoax 911 calls known as “swatting” is a problem that has popped up and plagued many areas all over the country. Just recently a hoax call was made into Fairfax which prompted a full SWAT response, the second such call in Marin County in just the past two weeks.
“We got a report from a 14-year-old boy apparently that his father, armed with an AK-47 shot his mother,” said Sergeant Rico Tavaranzo of the Fairfax Police.
And that the kid was still inside the home on a family oriented, leafy street just outside Fairfax city limits. So they responded not knowing what they’d find.
More than two dozen officers from various agencies tried to figure out what was happening. But, there were early clues this might have been a hoax.
“Details that the caller was able to provide were very succinct, very detailed. And usually under the circumstances, most people are not in a position where they are very calm, when you are providing information,” said Lieutenant Doug Pittman of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.
The supposed 14-year-old, who said he was cowering upstairs, sounded like a grownup pretending to be young, among other things.
At that point, police had no idea it was swatting, a prank call to 911 that looks like it’s coming from a different location. Similar calls sent the SWAT team in Los Angeles to the homes of celebrities such as the Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher.
“We made contact with the owners of the house. And the stories weren’t matching up,” Tavaranzo said.
In fact there was a 9-year-old alone in the home and Mom was driving up just as the police were taking positions.
Unfortunately, police are getting used to these incidents. Last spring it was Terra Nova High. Just last month, it was an elementary school in Santa Clara, and a home in San Rafael. Police are trying to figure out if they could be connected.
“I don’t know. And it’s probably going to take people much more educated than I to figure out the type of mind of an individual who wants to play this type of game,” Pittman said.