A very sick joke apparently led to a SWAT team raid on an innocent man’s home, as well as the shooting of a police chief.
Police raided the home of a Sentinel, Oklahoma, man in late January because of a bizarre prank called “SWAT-ting,” in which a 911 prank call is made so that an innocent person receives a SWAT-team raid. Even scarier: The system apparently can be tricked and the call doesn’t have to come from inside the home.
The 29-year-old man, Dallas Horton, is described by neighbors as a survivalist. The 911 caller made a bomb threat on a local community center.
“I did not make the 911 call,” Horton told Fox News.
So far, police agree and he has not been arrested.
The incident is particularly horrific because Horton shot Sentinel Police Chief Louis Ross three times in the chest and once in the arm with a shotgun during the raid. Ross received minor injuries and was treated and released. He was able to walk away only because he had borrowed a sheriff deputy’s bullet proof vest.
Horton believed he was being robbed after hearing dogs barking and seeing strange men in his house.
“For the past several hours, [Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation] investigators have extensively interviewed the man,” the OSBI said in a statement. “Facts surrounding the case lead agents to believe the man was unaware it was officers who made entry.”
Incredibly, the call traced to the house may not have been made inside the home.
“That call was not made from phones in the possession of those who live inside the home nor any other phones inside the residence,” an OSBI statement to Fox News read. “The investigation into the threatening 911 call and the subsequent shooting of the Sentinel police chief remains under active investigation.”
Who Made the Calls?
Police raided Horton’s house after somebody called 911 and threated to blow up a local school.
The Oklahoman reported that Horton’s Facebook contained references comparing Nazi Germany to the US and also had posts about ISIS.
“I’ve known that kid all of his life,” Sentinel Mayor Sam Dlugonski told The Oklahoman. “I don’t think he was tied to the Islamic State in any way.”
SWAT-ting is now so common that it has its own Wikipedia entry.
There have been other disturbing SWAT-ing incidents in recent years. The Richards family of Millville, New Jersey, found their house surrounded by a SWAT team after a prank by video gamers, who told a 911 operator that son Robb had shot his dad.
“They had us lay down on the pavement. It was just insane,” Robb told a Philadelphia TV station.
Rob Dovidio, a cybercrimes expert at Drexel University, is concerned that SWAT-ting is on the rise.
“The potential for someone to get hurt is there,” Dovidio said.
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