CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – ‘Swatting.’
The term refers to people who prank call law enforcement or emergency lines to report a non-existent crime, forcing a major response.
In Oct., it was seen locally in several locations, at a man’s home in Charlotte and numerous schools in South Carolina.
One incident happened at a man’s home; police were dispatched to the scene after a call was made saying that the person who resided there had shot his girlfriend and threatened to kill himself.
In a 911 call obtained by Queen City News, dispatchers were in contact with a person who was using text-to-speech to respond to questions.
“You said you shot your girlfriend, and she’s not breathing?” asked the dispatcher.
“Yes,” the caller responded in a text-to-speech voice,
Later in the phone call, the caller said, “I am alone here and heavily armed,” and continued, “I’m going to end my life. Please don’t try to stop me,” before the call ended.
The call prompted a significant response from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to the home.
The victim, in this case, Alex Aguilar, believes he was targeted because of the live streaming of games he plays on the online platform Twitch.
For the record, no shooting ever happened.
Aguilar does not have a girlfriend, as he is openly gay.
“It took a lot to process what I was hearing,” he said after listening to the 911 call. “I thought the caller was calling as me. They were posing as me, which just made matters worse.”
Aguilar and his roommate were made to come out with their hands up, but within minutes were able to return home.
Police figured out within moments that the call was not legitimate.
Agular has since filed a report on the “swatting” incident with CMPD.
Law enforcement must take these calls seriously, but the calls are a source of frustration.
“That’s not the game you want to play with us,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.
Lancaster County was one of several counties, along with Chester and Chesterfield counties, locally, that had to deal with a series of prank calls about active shooter situations at schools in October.
“You have all these resources going to a certain location. You have all these parents, victims, and the community all up in there wondering what’s going on,” said Faile. “It makes me mad.”
Filing a false report is also a crime.
“Swatting” has led to numerous instances nationally where people have been shot or killed. Those who call in the pranks, once they are caught, are charged.
The South Carolina “swatting” cases and the Aguilar incident are still being investigated.
Aguilar said he had been the target of other similar but lower-level pranks by people online, with unusual items showing up at his home.
He added that other LGBTQ game streamers were hit with similar “swatting” calls.
Aguilar said he is now in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the incident at his home.