Local authorities swarmed a Hemingway Place residence Tuesday afternoon after getting a call of an incident inside the home.
Just one problem. There had not been an incident.
It was a swatting call — a prank call that comes into the authorities claiming some kind of horrific crime has occurred at a home, which leads the local police to swarm the scene.
“We are fortunate we don’t have many instances of it in Georgetown,” said Robert Swanigan, Georgetown Police assistant chief. “While nothing may actually happen, it is a strain on resources because it is the type of reports that require a significant response. And it’s not just police. We usually have ambulances and other personnel on the scene.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Hemingway was blocked from the Bypass to keep residents from entering the neighborhood. Authorities took up positions and made contact with the homeowner to come out with their hands up, according to WKYT.
Swatting calls happen across the country, and sometimes involve celebrities being “swatted” — the term used on the home authorities respond too.
A swatting incident in 2017 drew national attention when a call came into authorities in Kansas that the caller had killed his father and was holding his family hostage while threatening to set the house on fire, according to CNN.
Authorities responded to the home and when the resident, Andrew Finch, answered the door, police shot and killed him. The caller, Tyler Barris, was later sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Barris said he made the call at the request of a gamer who wanted revenge on the person at Finch’s address. The person the gamer was upset with no longer lived there.
Swanigan said a call like this is time-consuming.
“We have to check previous call history and see if there is anything recent that would indicate something happening, then we work to make contact inside the residence to figure out what’s going on,” he said.
The investigation into who placed the call then takes time.
“There’s multiple layers to peel back,” Swanigan said.
“It requires multiple search warrants to service providers. We’ve had the calls made from other countries, so it can be difficult to track.”
But authorities will track them down as they get leads.
“An option is reaching out to our federal partners for assistance,” he said.
“We’ll spend the necessary amount of time on it if we can get the leads to track someone down.”
Steve McClain can be reached at email@example.com.