HOOPER, Utah – An apparent swatting scam made for an unusual Sunday morning for one family.
A swatting scam occurs when someone calls authorities about a violent incident at an address, but when police arrive, they learn it’s all a hoax.
Shelly Jones says that happened to her family.
While watching a television show, she received a text message from a neighbor asking about a commotion outside her house. She had her husband check to see if there was a problem.
“As he came out the door, the sheriffs had guns aimed at him,” Jones said.
The Weber County Sheriffs’ Office said it was responding to a 911 call.
“It came in with further details that an individual was shot and deceased at the address and then the line disconnected,” Sgt. Cortney Ryan said.
Authorities responded with a strong presence. They forced everyone to exit the house with their hands raised.
“When I came out, there were guns aimed at us," Jones said. "There were cops all over the place, the SWAT team."
She escorted her grandson to the sheriff’s car.
“I kept telling my grandson, 'Just keep your hands up. Don’t make some stupid moves. Don’t do something silly that can get us hurt.'"
After more than an hour of investigating, Weber County Sheriffs’ deputies determined the call was a hoax.
“They were looking for a dead body and a shooter,” Jones said. “They searched the house and everything–there’s nothing that went on. So if this was a prank, it was not funny.”
The sheriff plans to send this case to the department’s internet crimes team to trace the origin of the bogus 911 call.
“The unfortunate side of this prank is we put a lot of peoples’ lives in danger because we don’t know exactly what’s going on and nor do the people who are inside the home,” Ryan said.
Nobody was injured in this incident, but this type of scam can have deadly consequences.
In December 2017, a man in Wichita, Kansas was shot and killed after police responded to a false call about a hostage situation at his home.
The Jones family is thankful nobody was hurt and they credit the work of Weber County Sheriffs’ deputies for keeping everyone safe.
Shelly can now laugh about just how bizarre this incident was because it had a happy ending.
“This is a really calm little town of Hooper and things like that don’t happen down here,” she said. “We’ll be the talk of church today.”