How a Family Almost Got Shot and Gassed: a Swatting Story

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How a Family Almost Got Shot and Gassed: a Swatting Story

'When you have twenty, twenty five guns aimed at you without the safeties on ... you start shaking.'

Swatting has become an all too familiar occurrence. God alone knows who thinks it would be funny to get someone else shot in a police raid; as Maxcuster X points out, you can't have the internet without trolls. Case in point, Maxcuster's own Swatting, in which he, his wife, his children and his infant daughter were all put at risk by some jagoff who thought it would be amusing to re-enact Grand Theft Auto V.

The story's best told in Maxcuster's own words. He said nothing at the time, hoping to deny the troll his jollies. Whoever it was went to great lengths to ensure the cops would want to come in shooting. It's anyone's guess what might have happened next, if Maxcuster and his wife hadn't realized what was going on and made contact with the police.

"What a game, huh?" sighs Maxcuster. "Real funny." There's not much that can be done, he admits, without giving up the internet altogether. Nice or nasty, doesn't matter; the people who do this are looking for a target, and don't care what or who they hit.

Maxcuster X hasn't given up. He wants to keep on doing the thing that he loves. If you want to see more of his stuff, have a look over here at his YouTube.

Permalink

So do these trolls really think they are getting away with it? 911/emergency service numbers in general, automatically logs your number and address you are calling from (the police system bypasses all those blocked number filters) before the first word is uttered. Can't call 911 over Skype, so you can't hide that way either. Do they not think these things through? Need tougher penalties I say.

Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

I think that may be part of it. In most other countries, police forces aren't allowed that heavy armament. It may also be that most of the idiots calling the police haven't been caught.

My question is, how are they doing this?
I doubt they were using payphones, why aren't they punished?
Why do the trolls know the victim's address to begin with?

Swatting becoming common means that those that do it suffer no consequences, which makes it an attractive tool for "trolling" people.

Whats wrong with America. Ive not heard this anywhere else. I think the guy is broad stroking abit here if it was the gamin community as a whole then this shit would be happening alot more. I just dont get how they think they can get away with it, i mean remember this 16 year old kid recently that got sent down for years for sending SWAT in to some guys CS stream. But i really diagree that this is ALL THE EVIL GAMING COMMUNITY.

Is this thing common on twitch? not just the swatting but the whole harassment, repeatedly coming back after being banned just for the sake of ruining someone's stream? Has anyone actually seen it happen?

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Not a symptom as such, just idiots abusing that culture 'for the lulz.' The war on drugs & terror really did a number on US police forces.

The fact that people think this is a silly joke is a symptom of the callousness and dehumanization that comes with the anonymity of the digital sphere.

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

It may have more to do with state borders. If I prank call from Alabama, but the target is in Arkansas, the Arkansas state law can't come after me. The Federals can, but then it boils down to whether or not the FBI's going to spend time and resources investigating what amounts to a wasting police time offense. Of course, if ever someone actually gets shot then things will change dramatically.

Whereas if I were doing this in the UK, and prank called Nottingham while living in Leeds, there are no borders to consider, and the cops will probably be more than happy to turn up at my door.

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Matthi205:
I think that may be part of it. In most other countries, police forces aren't allowed that heavy armament. It may also be that US law simply doesn't permit for persecution of the idiots who called the police in the first place (as far as I can tell, anyway).

There are penalties for filing false reports with the police, and the level of penalty correlates directly to the lie. If we use this video as an example, the caller will face felony charges (highest level of US crime) for lying about a murder.

I would argue that this is not directly connected to the militarization of police since the threats the SWAT teams are supposed to respond to are things like bombs and suspects that are considered to be armed and very dangerous. They have to take the call seriously, even when it turns out to be utter garbage, because there is too much at stake in ignoring it.

OT: Kudos to Maxcustard, and double to his wife. They faced an incredibly volatile situation and came out okay. But seriously, this can only happen so many times before someone really does get killed, and then nobody is going to be happy. The SWAT team is not a joke and it is not a toy. People fucking die in SWAT raids. Whoever thinks this is funny clearly has no idea just how dangerous the situation they are creating actually is.

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Most countries it isn't easy to do it. You need a large amount of people calling at once. In Australia, they'd be more likely to send a lone police officer to knock on the guys door first.

yeah, this swatting thing is dumb and really dangerous someone is going to get killed, honestly i'm surprised no one has yet. I hope nobody does but I just feel it in my bones that soon someone is going to react the wrong way and get killed. so seriously knock it off.

i'm curious how anyone thinks this is funny anyway? I can wrap my head around the idea of it being funny to call the cops on someone listening to a shoot em up movie too loudly or playing a shooter game yeah I've heard stories but once it comes down to real honest to god no kidding around assault weapons being pointed at people it's not funny it's just scary, for everyone. my question is when someone does get killed in one of these swat raids will there be any legal liability for the caller? I hope so.

Its crap like this why stopped bringing my hobby to work with me. I can't be openly part of a community which supports things like swatting.

I don't want to go on too much of a rant, but the Escapist and other videogame news outlets aren't helping by reporting these things. The idiots who do these hoaxes want to be noticed. Letting something they did run amok all over the news sites just makes them feel more powerful.

List:
My question is, how are they doing this?
I doubt they were using payphones, why aren't they punished?
Why do the trolls know the victim's address to begin with?

Swatting becoming common means that those that do it suffer no consequences, which makes it an attractive tool for "trolling" people.

That's what I'm curious about. I mean do they not require the person calling in to give their name and address too? Or at least know their number so they can track them down?

I would think wasting the police's (especially a SWAT team's) valuable time and money on a false alarm would warrant tracking the fucker down and either locking them up or forcing them to pay a large fine. It wouldn't be so funny if the brat was staring down a couple grand in fines or face most of his life in prison.

Karloff:

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

It may have more to do with state borders. If I prank call from Alabama, but the target is in Arkansas, the Arkansas state law can't come after me. The Federals can, but then it boils down to whether or not the FBI's going to spend time and resources investigating what amounts to a wasting police time offense. Of course, if ever someone actually gets shot then things will change dramatically.

Whereas if I were doing this in the UK, and prank called Nottingham while living in Leeds, there are no borders to consider, and the cops will probably be more than happy to turn up at my door.

Really? That's how it works? Can't the Arkansas state law just hand it over to the Alabama state law?
Usually I'm all for personal freedom, less government interference and flexibility when it comes to police authority, but if you call a swat team to someone's house, someone who did you no harm and is trying to entertain people, you waste taxpayers' resources and create both emotional trauma and the very real possibility of someone getting killed, all because, at best, you have a misguided sense of humor and want to have a laugh or at worst because you're a gigantic dick and you get some kind of perverted pleasure out of ruining somebody's evening, YOU SHOULD GO TO PRISON!

nightmare_gorilla:
yeah, this swatting thing is dumb and really dangerous someone is going to get killed, honestly i'm surprised no one has yet. I hope nobody does but I just feel it in my bones that soon someone is going to react the wrong way and get killed. so seriously knock it off.

Would we necessarily know if it had happened?

Police raids go wrong ever so often, we might hear that it was "bad intel" or something, but not hear it was a prank.

Personally, I can't think of why anyone would try this unless they were hoping the people were injured or killed. Hell, do this to someone you knew was drunk at the time, or who came from a minority group...

I didn't watch the video because the article, I think, explains it well enough. My problem with all of these is that yes "how does it get to this point?" I understand a SWAT team reporting to what they believe to be a legitimate threat, but the "barging in the door, safeties off" does not seem like the best approach to me. I understand that it's not like in the movies, but in those tense situations, do they not worry about shooting the wrong person?

For example, let's say that it is legit, and the criminal has hostages. SWAT barges into the room, the criminal is startled, and a frightened hostage sees this as an opportunity to flee. So they do. SWAT sees the hostage, but only recognizes it as "someone moving quickly," so they shoot first, ask questions after. Now we have a dead innocent person because they didn't bother to gather any intel on the room that they were about to break into. Assume these are real threats: shouldn't they at least try to get an idea of how many people are in the room, and how many of them might be threats BEFORE barging in? And also where they are, so that they don't barge into the room and end up getting shot in the back by someone unaccounted for?

Personally, if I'm sitting at my computer when my door kicks in, I don't think "SWAT team," I think "home invasion. I need to protect my wife and daughter." With that state of mind, I'm not apt to comply just because someone is yelling "get down on the floor." In the panic, for all I know, it's a criminal yelling that at me. Assume they also have lights shining in my eyes so I can't identify them as police, and all they see is a guy running toward them. I get gunned down because "we were responding to a call, breached, and a suspect rushed us." That's what makes these type of situations unsettling to me. Some asshole wants to call the police, fine. They show up? Good. They're being prudent. But if I were to call the fire department saying there was a fire, do they kick in the door with hoses going? Or do they assess the situation first so that they know what they're getting into?

tdylan:
snip

While I'd like to say something else, the short answer for most of the comment is just "no", I remember that one case of an old lady getting shot down because the cops raided the wrong house, and it was pretty much "she had a gun - but you raided the wrong house - Nope nope nope" and it was left in nothing" Or the several "it was the wrong house but the dog barked at me".

While I find it extremely sad that some cunt would get off by getting someone else raided by the police, it says a lot when the cops in that scenario will go raid a house and point/yell at people first, instead of actually making sure of what's happening.

I'm glad this dude and his family didn't get hurt, but this is a symptom of militarization of the police. If the police had any sense they might ask some questions. Instead they get one call and strap on the heavy weapons and start kicking doors in. I understand they don't want to be the Police force that allowed something like Columbine or Sandy Hook to happen because they were too cautious but you have to be able to do something find out what you are walking into short of flashbangs and swat teams.

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Some French kid was sentenced to 6 months for doing it not long ago. Pretty lenient if you ask me.

So stupid, especially as there could be another urgent call for a real situation that the SWAT could be dealing with. The risk to actually life should make anyone caught doing this sent to prison. I would use the same thing for those miss using the Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance.

This is the gaming community. For every one step forward the majority takes, we get dragged two back by the minority.

Darxide:

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Some French kid was sentenced to 6 months for doing it not long ago. Pretty lenient if you ask me.

Probably not, since hes got a criminal record.

Im no employer, but i am certain i wouldnt hire someone who called in the SWAT (or equivalents) on someone just because they were beaten at a game.

tdylan:
I didn't watch the video because the article, I think, explains it well enough. My problem with all of these is that yes "how does it get to this point?" I understand a SWAT team reporting to what they believe to be a legitimate threat, but the "barging in the door, safeties off" does not seem like the best approach to me. I understand that it's not like in the movies, but in those tense situations, do they not worry about shooting the wrong person?

For example, let's say that it is legit, and the criminal has hostages. SWAT barges into the room, the criminal is startled, and a frightened hostage sees this as an opportunity to flee. So they do. SWAT sees the hostage, but only recognizes it as "someone moving quickly," so they shoot first, ask questions after. Now we have a dead innocent person because they didn't bother to gather any intel on the room that they were about to break into. Assume these are real threats: shouldn't they at least try to get an idea of how many people are in the room, and how many of them might be threats BEFORE barging in? And also where they are, so that they don't barge into the room and end up getting shot in the back by someone unaccounted for?

Personally, if I'm sitting at my computer when my door kicks in, I don't think "SWAT team," I think "home invasion. I need to protect my wife and daughter." With that state of mind, I'm not apt to comply just because someone is yelling "get down on the floor." In the panic, for all I know, it's a criminal yelling that at me. Assume they also have lights shining in my eyes so I can't identify them as police, and all they see is a guy running toward them. I get gunned down because "we were responding to a call, breached, and a suspect rushed us." That's what makes these type of situations unsettling to me. Some asshole wants to call the police, fine. They show up? Good. They're being prudent. But if I were to call the fire department saying there was a fire, do they kick in the door with hoses going? Or do they assess the situation first so that they know what they're getting into?

The team doesn't breach until they have a plan of action. To the person in the room it might look like a sudden thing, but they did not just show up, run to the door, and kick it in. That said their knowledge is not magically 100%, this isn't the movies. You will also notice that there haven't been any reports of people being shot during one of these, which speaks about SWATs specific and higher training requirements.

There are several different protocols that are used depending on the situation, I am fairly confident the 'pranksters' know which descriptions to use to trigger the desired SWAT response. While these are cases where just sending an officer to check would resolve them what if they weren't lying? What if it had been a situation where the officer knocking on the door get's that officer killed? How do you tell the difference? Just risk it?

Duffy13:
You will also notice that there haven't been any reports of people being shot during one of these, which speaks about SWATs specific and higher training requirements.

There are plenty of incidents of SWAT teams killing innocents. Quite a few of these in raids based on "mistaken information".

My question is why are these people going in so heavy based on such limited information. I've never heard of a case like this outside of the U.S. This seems like it is an extremely effective measure to antagonize people because they are going in so heavy and because no one has yet been prosecuted for swatting.

If you give people an effective and brutal way to make people afraid in their own homes with litte or no consequence for doing it then you're going to have a problem. There must be some way of avoiding these things becoming so escalated over a single spoof call.

Grabehn:

While I find it extremely sad that some cunt would get off by getting someone else raided by the police, it says a lot when the cops in that scenario will go raid a house and point/yell at people first, instead of actually making sure of what's happening.

While it may sound reasonable to get a near-guarantee that the situation is a genuine concern by observing first, you have to consider that if time is a factor they're going to act as swiftly as possible. That means checking every room, every nook and cranny, for any kind of potential threat. They're loud and forceful because in those situations they need to be. In a real situation there is no room for error. That's what they train for. They can't just knock on the door, say they're here to inspect the place, then go into 'Action Mode' when they see that there is a real threat.

tdylan:
snip

I think Duffy13 explained it well enough, but I think the last sentence in the above paragraph, if not the entire paragraph itself, sums up my thoughts on the matter.

Every time I see a story on Swatting, I lose more and more hope for humanity. Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea?

Duffy13:
You will also notice that there haven't been any reports of people being shot during one of these, which speaks about SWATs specific and higher training requirements.

There was a story a couple weeks ago where some 15 yr old kid swatted someone who beat him in a few games of Battlefield and he swatted the guy, which resulted in the father of the victim being shot and critically wounded. The kid ended up being convicted on two counts of domestic terrorism and was sentenced to 25-life.

BinDipper:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

Most other countries don't have an overly militarized police force. US cops in a random small town are better supplied with weapons than most countries' military forces.

Gah, what the hell is wrong with some people?! There have to be ways of tracking these assholes down, otherwise I weep for humanity...

Bolo The Great:
My question is why are these people going in so heavy based on such limited information. I've never heard of a case like this outside of the U.S. This seems like it is an extremely effective measure to antagonize people because they are going in so heavy and because no one has yet been prosecuted for swatting.

If you give people an effective and brutal way to make people afraid in their own homes with litte or no consequence for doing it then you're going to have a problem. There must be some way of avoiding these things becoming so escalated over a single spoof call.

Well, as was stated earlier in the thread:

AstaresPanda:
this 16 year old kid recently that got sent down for years for sending SWAT in to some guys CS stream.

Link here

So, there has been a case where the swatter has been caught, but they really have to make themselves known. I've gone over, as have other people, the reasons why the SWAT teams are "going in so heavy" and it's simply because there's no room for error. They need to be prepared for whatever is behind closed doors and the unfortunate thing is that there's no way of knowing. There's a reason they've been operating the way they have for years because it's effective. People are bringing it into question now simply because of these swatters--few would've guessed that people would think to make those kind of "prank" calls.

So, I recall watching the twitch stream clip of a streamer who had the SWAT show up during a stream and the footage was caught on webcam.

These are definitely intense situations and while the SWAT officers are well trained, there was one in that stream raid which retorted to the streamer lightly chuckling, "What's so F***ing funny?"

I felt like going in there and decking that idiot officer in the face!

Seriously, when a bunch of armed men with automated guns had pinned you to the ground with firearms trained on you calling you a piece of shit, you panic. This often illicits a forced smile and even some forced laughter to show that you are friendly, a self preservation response to calm the attackers down.

I'd like to point out that this family is German, and to my knowledge lived in Germany. (I could be very wrong, please correct me if so.) Germany also has SWAT teams, and they are very sensitive to threats of this kind (due to incidents they suffered before the formation of GSG9). Thus, this incident isn't reflective of American "police militarization" so much as German sensitivity to terroristic threats on their police force.

Mortis Nuncius:

Bolo The Great:
My question is why are these people going in so heavy based on such limited information. I've never heard of a case like this outside of the U.S. This seems like it is an extremely effective measure to antagonize people because they are going in so heavy and because no one has yet been prosecuted for swatting.

If you give people an effective and brutal way to make people afraid in their own homes with litte or no consequence for doing it then you're going to have a problem. There must be some way of avoiding these things becoming so escalated over a single spoof call.

Well, as was stated earlier in the thread:

AstaresPanda:
this 16 year old kid recently that got sent down for years for sending SWAT in to some guys CS stream.

Link here

So, there has been a case where the swatter has been caught, but they really have to make themselves known. I've gone over, as have other people, the reasons why the SWAT teams are "going in so heavy" and it's simply because there's no room for error. They need to be prepared for whatever is behind closed doors and the unfortunate thing is that there's no way of knowing. There's a reason they've been operating the way they have for years because it's effective. People are bringing it into question now simply because of these swatters--few would've guessed that people would think to make those kind of "prank" calls.

Well it's a good think someone got caught. It is a difficult balance to strike. I suppose in the USA people CAN stalk around their house with an assault weapon. Here in the UK the idea of an 'active shooter' with large magazines of ammo and military grade hardware is pretty foreign.

The US police forces have been shown up as very heavy handed of late, it's a discussion to be had rather than a blame game. Swatting needs to be a less attractive as a tool to fuck with people.

Bolo The Great:

Mortis Nuncius:

Bolo The Great:
My question is why are these people going in so heavy based on such limited information. I've never heard of a case like this outside of the U.S. This seems like it is an extremely effective measure to antagonize people because they are going in so heavy and because no one has yet been prosecuted for swatting.

If you give people an effective and brutal way to make people afraid in their own homes with litte or no consequence for doing it then you're going to have a problem. There must be some way of avoiding these things becoming so escalated over a single spoof call.

Well, as was stated earlier in the thread:

AstaresPanda:
this 16 year old kid recently that got sent down for years for sending SWAT in to some guys CS stream.

Link here

So, there has been a case where the swatter has been caught, but they really have to make themselves known. I've gone over, as have other people, the reasons why the SWAT teams are "going in so heavy" and it's simply because there's no room for error. They need to be prepared for whatever is behind closed doors and the unfortunate thing is that there's no way of knowing. There's a reason they've been operating the way they have for years because it's effective. People are bringing it into question now simply because of these swatters--few would've guessed that people would think to make those kind of "prank" calls.

Well it's a good think someone got caught. It is a difficult balance to strike. I suppose in the USA people CAN stalk around their house with an assault weapon. Here in the UK the idea of an 'active shooter' with large magazines of ammo and military grade hardware is pretty foreign.

The US police forces have been shown up as very heavy handed of late, it's a discussion to be had rather than a blame game. Swatting needs to be a less attractive as a tool to fuck with people.

I agree. I think this is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios. Having a system in place where you can call the police to respond to a situation quickly is great and useful, but too easy to abuse. Then there's the matter of investigation. Time, money, and peace of mind have already been wasted on responding to prank calls, then to use even more resources to find the caller becomes a concern. But those kind of people can't be left to keep doing what they're doing, so they've got that mess to deal with. I certainly don't envy the people in charge of making those decisions.

Mortis Nuncius:
certainly don't envy the people in charge of making those decisions.

I think is gets even muddier when you consider that there will be people arguing: "tracking down prank callers? Well I'm glad to see you wasting my tax dollars!" But if they don't, this continues, and enough innocent people are hurt as a result, the cry will be "instead of spending my tax payer dollars to kick in the doors of innocent people, why weren't you finding the ones making the calls, and kicking in their doors?"

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