STAFFORD, Va. - The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and a local teenager were targeted this week by a swatting prank, a recent trend where someone makes a prank call to 911 to get police or SWAT teams out in riot gear to respond to an unsuspecting person's home.
Jamie Hiller is like a lot of teenagers who spends a lot of time on their computer playing video games. But he found out earlier this week an online dispute with another person he had never met can become more than just a game.
“I contacted police at first because I wasn't sure,” the 18-year-old said. “I knew they had my phone number and they were sending me text messages from fake numbers trying to call me. Things like that.”
Hiller said he called the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office to report that an online fight with someone he didn’t know led them to make threats to swat his home.
A few days later, Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Detective Rob Firkin said at around 1 a.m., the swatting call came in.
“He said he had shot his dad, shot his mother in the arm and was threatening to blow the house up if he didn't get a certain amount of money,” said Firkin.
Several sheriff cars responded, but no event took place.
“They took all the necessary precautions should it have been a true incident, but keeping in the back of mind that this had been threatened earlier,” said Firkin.
Meanwhile, investigators are now working to track down the suspected swatter while Hiller learned a valuable virtual lesson.
“If you are online and doing things like that, you should just understand what kind of risks you are running and know there can be certain consequences of arguments, of trolling,” Hiller said.
“It's very juvenile but people get angry even online and they take now what used to be kind of innocent crank calls to a whole new level and potentially causing very serious problems for the resident,” said Det. Firkin.