• Parkland 'swatting' incident draws out heavy police response over false call

    By: Ranji Sinha

    Updated:

    A 21-year-old man accused of calling sheriff's deputies in a so-called "swatting" call is defending himself against the allegations.

    Pierce County deputies say the report of a kidnapping Sunday night at a Parkland apartment complex was a prank and they are labeling it "swatting."

    The 21-year-old who was arrested spoke to KIRO 7 News. We are not naming him since he has not been charged, but he contends that he's a victim in this incident.

    The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department says a 21-year-old man and 15-year-old girl were arrested after 911 calls drew police to an apartment complex in the 12700 block of C Street South in Parkland around 7 p.m. Sunday looking for children supposedly being held hostage -- a story deputies say wasn't true.

    The Sheriff’s Department posted details on its Facebook page and under a lead statement which read, “If you called 911 on Sunday night in Pierce County and had significant delays or no response from law enforcement, it was due to a very poor choice by a teenage girl and an adult male. A 'swatting' prank took a large amount resources away from REAL emergencies and REAL victims.”

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    The PCSD says it was around 6:44 p.m. Sunday when a woman called 911 to report that she had been on the phone with her son and said her son had told her his 16-year-old friend was in danger. The initial emergency had a scenario where that friend and two younger siblings were being threatened by their father, who was reportedly armed with a firearm in an unknown apartment.

    The woman eventually gave dispatchers her son’s phone number and they were able to get hold of him. He reported that the incident was playing out at the Heather Court apartments. He also contended that the situation was ongoing and that he was headed to the area and would meet deputies so they could speak to the victim.

    He met deputies at a nearby business and was with them when authorities got on the phone with the supposed victim, who couldn’t give them an apartment number where the incident was taking place.

    PCSD spokesperson Ed Troyer says the call drew a heavy response to the apartments late Sunday.

    “We were pretty much armed and took over a neighborhood because that's what we do when we hear someone's armed and going to kill somebody.”

    Troyer says dozens of officers raced to the complex after calls said children were being held at gunpoint by their father.

    The call was so severe -- deputies abandoned real emergency calls -- but it ended up being a fake cry for help.

    “This is dangerous for everybody when our guys are armed and they think somebody's being held hostage by somebody in a house. Somebody in that house could have gotten hurt," said Troyer.

    Jeremy George lives across the street from the Heather Court Apartments and says he saw police lining up in the area. He was not pleased that a fake "swatting" call may be the reason for the police response.

    “That's just insane. It's so stupid," he said.

    Rick Vanwechel also lives across the street and said he watched the incident play out from the roof of his building. He, too, was surprised to learn it may have all been due to a false call.

    “No, no was it really? Oh no that's not cool….you can't do that! That's stupid!," said Vanwechel.

    Deputies searched the apartments and checked with staff, but nobody matched the description that were part of the 911 call. They also traced the 911 call back to the home a 15-year-old girl who deputies say admitted she pretended to be the victim. Deputies also arrested a 21-year-old man who they say played a role.

    KIRO 7’s crew met the 21-year-old man at his home and he said he feels like he was a victim.

    "I thought it was real ... I had no idea until after the incident was over and the cop just came over and said you were under arrest and it hit me like a brick.”

    He said he was frustrated the girl may have targeted him and others.

    “I hope I come up clean from it ... and them (the culprits) paying for it, because this was just wrong.”

    He confirmed he met police and that he had been arrested and had been in the Pierce County Jail until he was released Monday.

    He says his court date will be July 3.

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