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Dangerous 'SWATTING' hoax played on Butte police

Posted at 5:21 PM, Mar 30, 2021

BUTTE — The call came in as a shooting and hostage situation at a residence in Butte and police quickly responded.

It turned out is was a false report. It’s a hoax known as SWATTING, which is a dangerous prank that’s become common in recent years.

“Somebody makes a false call and their intention is to get the tactical team activated and respond and basically create a bunch of chaos and tie up a lot of resources,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.

Police, along with support from ambulance and firefighters, blocked off the area of Platinum and Travonia streets and set up a perimeter around the house.

It turned out to be teenagers in the home that had nothing to do with the hoax.

Police suspect the call came from someone out of state.

“It’s probably going to be very difficult to trace. We’re going to start doing that immediately, obviously, to see if we can locate the person who made the call, but it’s probably going to be a difficult process,” said Lester.

This is the first time police in Butte experienced SWATTING.

“It shows we’re capable of responding to this thing on the good side -- on the bad side, we could have been doing something else,” Sheriff Lester said.

The sheriff pointed out that SWATTING is not a harmless prank and that making a false report to police is a serious crime.

“There’s a lot of bad things that can happen with us driving like that and emergency responses and just the overall situation wasn’t good, but it’s dangerous because we think it’s a real situation and fortunately we responded safely and we all left safely and it wasn’t a real incident,” he said.

Police have no motive for the hoax.