Congressman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Breitbart News on Monday night that he “absolutely” plan to press charges against whomever targeted him and his family in Michigan on April 27 via a fake 911 call. He will also urge the FBI to begin an investigation on the larger issue of what is now known as “swatting.”
“This is dangerous stuff, really. I’m encouraging both the locals and the FBI to pursue it. It’s clearly becoming a trend around the country, and I argue that it’s dangerous and somebody is going to get hurt,” Rogers said. “Somebody is going to show up with guns drawn if this keeps up the way they’re doing it.”
When a swatting occurs, police rush to a residence after a phony 911 call is received from dispatch via an anonymous individual. That individual, who is masking their telephone number and falsely claiming to be a member of the residence, will tell a 911 operator that a horrific crime just happened at the address of the home or is about to be perpetrated. In the meantime, the actual homeowners are oblivious to what has just happened until police or SWAT teams arrive at their doorstep with guns drawn–hence the term “swatting.”
The act of swatting a victim only became well known when Hollywood celebrities and TV news talkers became victims. Ryan Seacrest, Justin Bieber, and Ashton Kutcher are just some in Hollywood who have been victim to this crime. On the same day Rogers was swatted, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was also swatted. Swatting celebrities in California became so out of control, the LAPD halted releasing press releases about the incidents.
“Yes.[I’m going to press charges] to the extent that I can. I’m going to encourage to the bureau to do an investigation and maybe try to lump them all together and we can get a case of weight,” Rogers said. “Clearly, this is across the country and we need to get to the bottom of who is doing it. Think about the resources it costs. And, again, this isn’t some prank. The way they’re doing this presents a threat to innocent homeowners and the police officers. That’s dangerous,” he added.
Swatting can be accomplished in different ways–either through caller ID spoofing or through teletypewriter (TTY) relay. Simple online apps and websites provide easy ways to hide one’s caller ID and make the recipient think the caller is phoning from another number than what he or she is actually calling from.
The California state legislature moved forward on a bill last month that would slap harsher penalties on to those who engage in swatting attacks. On the federal level, although a GOP push happened for a DOJ investigation into the matter in June of 2012 after then-CNN contributor Erick Erickson was swatted (among others), very little has been done otherwise since.
Rogers, a former FBI agent, said he has not looked at a legislative angle on the issue yet, “But we are in the early stages of sorting it out, and again, I’m encouraging the FBI to pursue an investigation. Again, when you have people showing up under the circumstances of which they’re called, officers are on edge–certainly, homeowners in some cases around the country when they are there, it’s pretty rough on them and their family.”
Rogers added, “As I said, at some point these kinds of things can go wrong and somebody’s going to get hurt, so this is more serious than a prank and its intentions are obviously less than pure.”