WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem police barged into a home ready to confront an active shooter, busting down a door with their guns drawn when they quickly realized it was a false alarm.
“Yeah, it’s swatting,” one officer radioed to the rest of the first responders.
Swatting is a 911 prank when someone calls in a fake emergency, dispatching a high number of first responders to one location.
Alex Powers and his family learned first-hand what swatting is.
Powers watched a basketball game with his oldest son on May 19 when police barged into their Sheffield Drive home.
“There were eight people with guns drawn and lights and everyone screaming,” said Powers. “They were like, who’s in the house, and I was like, why are you in my house, and they were like, there’s an active shooter, and I’m like, not here.”
His son knew exactly what was happening.
“He was just like, we got swatted, we got swatted, and I’m like what is that,” said Powers.
The day before officers busted into the home, Powers’ son was playing Fortnite on his computer.
While gaming, he chatted with someone he didn’t know on an app called Discord.
The stranger’s profile featured a name and location, Ian from Dublin, Ohio.
“I think my son got under this guy’s skin sending pictures back and forth of their computers,” said Powers. “In the corner on his desk was one of my magazines with our address on it.”
Ian pointed out the address in the picture to Powers’ son.
“He said, I’m going to swat you tomorrow, and Luke was like yeah whatever, and sure enough,” said Powers.
According to Powers, the FBI is looking for Ian from Ohio.
One investigator told the dad things could have ended differently.
“He let me listen to the 911 call, in the call the kid said ‘my brother just shot my dad, I’m hiding in a closet, he’s walking around with a pistol,'” said Powers.
Powers noted, that he’s normally asleep by then and keeps his firearm locked inside his room.
“Had I come downstairs with a pistol they would have killed me, the FBI agent said that,” said Powers.
The threat of swatting is just one of many violent conversations taking place on the Discord app.
The person police believe is responsible for the mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo used Discord to share details about his attack.
“This is what our children are using when they’re playing video games, they’re actively hanging out with people doing these horrendous things,” said Powers.
Powers wants every parent to talk to their kids and know what apps they’re using.