Swatting, prank calls of violence on the rise

Locally and nationally
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 7:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA (25News Now) - Bloomington Police had to go to every school this morning to investigate a reported threat of gun violence, which turned out to be a false alarm. This is called an act of swatting. Swatting is defined as a false alarm or prank threat of destruction to a school or building, or a threat of violence, death or other bodily harm directed at a person in a school or building. The callers usually say there’s an active shooter or hostage situation.

The call came in just before seven Thursday morning, before schools were in session. Because a specific school wasn’t listed in the threat, officers had to respond to each school in the city as the investigation began. Officer Brandt Parsley from the Bloomington Police Department said, “We were able to speak with the person who was the alleged perpetrator of this event, at which time we were able to determine in the investigation that he did not make the phone call, and it was deemed not credible.”

Canton Police also recently had a swatting incident of a prank call to Canton High School in early February. Canton Public Informant Officer Edward Glad said, “I would say the trend is definitely rising. I think it’s because people are learning how to manipulate technology in their favor.” These prank calls or false alarms commonly come from people who are not local. The threat about the active shooter at Canton High School was traced back to Romania. ”It’s a mix. The majority of them are not from local, but we do have some that are. And the ones that are, obviously prosecution is a little easier. If it’s from Romania, probably a little more out of our scope,” Parsley added.

Police say swatting threats are a nuisance to first responders and a huge waste in resources. Glad stressed, ”It puts the public in harm’s way, because all these emergency services are responding to a call that turns out not to be true.” Parsley also added, “Police resources are wasted. It wastes resources all the way to the street department, they’re bringing out signs to keep people from coming into the area of where we’re staging. We have to have EMS personnel on scene in case it is legitimate.” There’s not much police can do to prevent these calls, but in Canton, they are doing what they can. Glad concluded, “Here in our community, we’re adding an additional resource officer. We are staying vigilant; we keep training to make sure we are prepared in case this kind of thing actually happens.”

Bloomington Police advise people to be careful with who you’re talking to online and be mindful of what you say. You never know who may turn your words into a legitimate swatting situation. Swatting is a class 4 felony, and if convicted, the person responsible could be ordered to reimburse the responding agencies up to $10,000.