BLUFFDALE, Utah — Officers from the Saratoga Springs Police Department are both frustrated and relieved after they responded to a report of a fatal shooting Sunday night that turned out to be a hoax.
“Swatting” is a type of prank in which false information about serious crimes is given to police, who then respond to a scene where no such crimes had occurred.
Saratoga Springs police, including their SWAT team, and officers from two other agencies responded to a home after police dispatch received a report that a man had shot and killed his mother and that he was holding other family members hostage.
As police began setting up a command post, a man came out of the home with his hands up and reported it was all a hoax.
Police told FOX 13 the man had received a call in which he was informed of the swatting incident about an hour before it occurred.
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton said anyone who is warned of an impending swatting hoax should give police a call.
“If they receive a call like this, they should notify local law enforcement in advance so that we can begin investigating the situation right away,” Burton said.
A similar incident occurred in Saratoga Springs last month. A 16-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly called in a bomb threat on the first day of class at Westlake High School.
A swatting incident in Littleton, Colo. last week made international headlines because it was captured on camera and posted to YouTube. The video was posted Wednesday and has been viewed more than 3.4 million times. (Watch it here.)
Law enforcement officials take swatting pranks very seriously as they use substantial police resources and can divert officers and medical personnel from actual emergencies.