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SPRING HILL, FL – The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating five “Swatting” calls targeting a residence in Spring Hill during a 17-hour period. Swatting is a term used when a person falsely calls in a threat to law enforcement to get them to raid another person’s home.
According to authorities, on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 10:07 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to a home on Forest Oaks Boulevard in reference to a report of an irrational subject who was armed with a firearm and hitting himself in the head.
Upon arrival, deputies quickly determined no such incident was occurring at the residence. The homeowner advised no one living in the house made the false report to law enforcement. An investigation revealed the unidentified caller appeared to be “Swatting” the family.
A second 911 call was received on Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 12:29 a.m. reporting an individual had cut themselves badly while cooking at the same residence as the first call from the day before and required assistance. Deputies responded and determined no one was injured at the residence.
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A third 911 call was received while deputies were still on scene at the second false report. This time the caller reported an individual was pointing a gun at someone inside the home located at the address of the first two calls. The deputies noted no such incident was occurring.
A fourth 911 call was received at 1:53 a.m. This time the caller reported hostages were being held inside the residence on Forest Oaks Boulevard. Deputies once again responded and determined it was a false report.
A fifth call was received at 2:30 p.m. The caller stated he had shot and killed his family at the same Forest Oaks Boulevard address. Deputies once again responded to the scene and determined it was another false report.
One of the groups at a higher risk for becoming victims of swatting includes those who regularly interact online through an online community group or is an online gamer. Most of the recent swatting calls are believed to be the result of information obtained through online gaming. Some helpful tips to prevent from becoming a victim of swatting include not posting your personal information online, not sharing personal information with strangers, securing your IP address and installing VPN software.
Sheriff Al Nienhuis said, “False reports, especially those that involve an emergency response, are not just a waste of tax dollars, they are dangerous to everyone involved. When law enforcement or fire rescue personnel respond to one of these foolish and juvenile pranks, the first responders and the public are at an increased risk for injury or death, all for absolutely no reason. If the people making these false allegations would just think for a moment the guilt they would feel the rest of their lives if a family unnecessarily lost a father or mother because of this juvenile behavior, it might make them realize the gravity of their actions.”