Pierce County Sheriff’s Office arrests two people for staging elaborate prank
That took law enforcement resources away from real emergencies
May 22, 2018
(TACOMA, WA.) – If you or a family member called 911 on Sunday night in Pierce County and had significant delays or no response at all from law enforcement, the sheriff’s office says it was due “to a very poor choice made by a teenage girl and an adult male.”
A "swatting" prank took a large amount resources away from real emergencies and real victims, says a sheriff’s office statement issued Monday.
Here’s what happened.
At 6:44 p.m. on Sunday May 20th a woman called 911 to report that she had just been on the phone with her son, and said that her son had told her that his 16 year old friend was in danger. The friend and his two young siblings were reportedly being threatened by their father, who was reportedly armed with a firearm in an unknown apartment.
The caller provided her son's phone number to the dispatchers; after approximately 5 minutes of repeated phone calls, dispatchers were able to get a hold of the caller's son, who reported that his friend was at the Heather Court Apartments in the 12700 block of C Street South. in Parkland. He also said that he was on the phone with his friend, that his friend's father was still armed and there was a 3 year old child in the apartment. He added that the apartment building was painted red. He told the dispatchers that he was on his way to the area and would meet the deputies nearby so they could speak directly to the "victim".
A PCSD patrol sergeant, a K9 deputy, and two patrol deputies were called off of other emergency calls for service and dispatched to the apartment complex to try to locate the children who were reportedly “being threatened at gunpoint.”
At 7:03 p.m. one of the deputies met the 911 caller's son in front of a business at 128th St. and Pacific Ave. The deputy got on the phone with the "victim", who was not able to provide the deputy with the apartment number where he and the other children were reportedly being threatened; the deputy could hear a man threatening the "victim" and telling him to get off the phone. The "victim" told the deputy his father's name and physical description.
The deputy kept the "victim" on the phone and drove the witness to the apartment building so he could point out which apartment was his friend's. When they arrived at the complex the witness confirmed this was the correct location where his friend lived. The patrol sergeant took the phone and talked to the boy, who said that he could not provide the apartment number or open a window to the apartment to signal where he was, because he was too afraid and was hiding from his armed father who was continuing to threaten his family.
At 7:14 p.m. the department requested priority backup to the apartment complex to help search for the victims. A total of 26 law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s office, the State Patrol and neighboring city police departments responded to “surround and search the complex with rifles and handguns drawn.”
Dispatchers called the original 911 caller back, who said that she had heard that the 16 year old victim and his 3 and 7 year old siblings were walking to the store when their father went looking for them and forced them at gunpoint into a vehicle.
Apartment complex staff were unable to provide an apartment number that matched the father's name. Deputies were provided with a map and a list on tenants at the apartment complex, and checked with apartment staff on all persons that could match the physical descriptions provided by the witness and the "victim" - nothing matched up. All area apartment complex were checked to see if any were painted red as described by the friend of the "victim", none were.
As the search was being conducted they also ran a trace on the phone number the "victim" was calling from, which came back to a house 16 blocks away from the apartments. When the deputies confronted the witness with this information, he claimed that the father was a very good hacker and could spoof the phone system to make it look like his friend's cell phone was really a landline somewhere else.
“Deputies began to suspect that the entire incident was fabricated, so all outside agency police officers were released from the scene.”
At 7:58 p.m. multiple deputies went to the address where the "victim"s phone number traced back to. An adult female answered the door and was upset that hear that her daughter's friend was endangered; the woman said that her daughter was home and had been on their landline phone. Deputies then contacted the girl, who eventually admitted that she had pretended to be the victim on the phone; she said that she and her male friend knew the "victim" from school and wanted to get back at him because the male friend didn't like the "victim".
The 15 year old female suspect and the 21 year old male suspect were arrested for False Reporting. At 10:44 p.m. the last deputies were cleared from handling this incident.