EDEN, N.C. (WGHP) — An Eden man was mistaken for a killer on Wednesday night.
Law enforcement ordered Alex Puffenberger to return home and then placed him in handcuffs. They thought he called 911 to confess to a killing. It was a murder that turned out to be a hoax, which is also known as swatting.
The case is a first for Eden police and one of the most disturbing calls the department has received. In a 911 call, you hear a man using the same name as the homeowner reporting a shooting.
“I’ve killed my mom, and I have my little sister hostage. I have her tied up in my bedroom,” the caller said.
Puffenberger pulled up to his home on Westwood Drive Wednesday night and saw red and blue police lights flashing.
“It was scary,” he said. “Probably one of the scariest moments of my life.”
He has no idea who made the 911 call or why they would do it.
“It’s not very human, and it’s not something you would want done to yourself,” he said.
Puffenberger’s next-door neighbor woke up to the sound of officers banging on his back door at about 9 p.m., demanding he and his family leave immediately.
“They walked us around with their guns and walked us outside, had my house surrounded pointing that way and escorted us outside here to get in my truck so I could pull off and leave,” Jonathan Mahaffey said.
The Eden Police Department sent 28 officers to the scene. Twenty-two were off duty at the time. The response to this fake call cost the county at least $10,000.
“The cops have more important things to worry about than stuff like that,” Mahaffey said.
Especially after learning no one was in Puffenberger’s home.
“The whole mental factor of it being in your head…’can this happen again? Will it happen again?’ It really runs through your head,” Puffenberger said.
Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said it can happen again, which is why he’s pushing for harsher penalties for this type of crime. He’s glad no one was hurt, including first responders.
FOX8 crews called our lawmakers Thursday to see if they are having conversations about increasing the punishment. They said it should be something they are talking about, but they have nothing drafted at this time.
FOX8 also checked with other local law enforcement agencies about swatting calls.
Davidson County deputies have responded to four this year.
Alamance County deputies dealt with one in January.
Forsyth County has had one in the past month, and the Winston-Salem Police Department has had a few since the start of the year.