Two high profile incidents over the weekend kept law enforcement on their toes as Congressman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) (R-MI) and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer became the latest targets in the potentially deadly tactic known as SWATting.
Rogers, who is Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a former FBI Agent, was not at home at the time of the incident.
The report from WoodTV indicated that a “heavy police presence” responded to Rogers’ residence on Saturday evening.
A local Michigan news website, Livingston Daily had more on the incident.
The caller “said this individual was involved in a domestic dispute and he shot and killed his wife, was suicidal, barricaded in a house and had knowledge of bomb making,” Basar explained.
That call summoned officers from Howell Police, Michigan State Police and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department as [well] as firefighters and Livingston County EMS. The county’s tactical team also was on standby, but not deployed.
“We were able to prove it was a hoax. The house was vacant,” Basar said.
The call is said to have come into central dispatch at about 7:30pm Saturday evening through an Internet Relay center, a text based service that is a common method used in SWATtings.
Congressman Rogers issued the following statement:
“Last night police investigated a threat to our home in Howell. I appreciate the quick and professional response of the Howell Police Department and the Livingston County Sheriff. While this turned out to be an unfortunate prank, it is a reminder of the real threats faced by our law enforcement community every day.”
Only an hour before the call to Congressman Rogers’ home, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was also the intended target of a SWATting attempt. Authorities were able to work with CNN to quickly determine that the call was a hoax. The Washington Post reported:
Montgomery County police received an urgent message at about 6:25 p.m. Saturday saying someone had been shot at Wolf Blitzer’s home in Bethesda. Officers streamed toward the CNN host’s residence near Congressional Country Club. They set up a perimeter.
But a dispatch supervisor was immediately skeptical, and a call to CNN confirmed it: The message was a fraud. Blitzer was fine — was, in fact, out of town. The authorities were dealing with another case of “SWATing,” in which someone jolts police into action with a fake distress call and technological trickery.
Though actual SWAT teams are not always called to the scene of such incidents, the FBI coined the tactic as SWATting because of the heavy police response that typically accompanies such calls, whether they are technically SWAT personnel or not.
Several conservative bloggers have been SWATted over the past eighteen months, but it’s been a long list of celebrity SWATtings, most of them in California, that has finally gained the tactic far more attention in recent months. Media have been covering the stories more often and lawmakers in California have proposed new legislation to try to further discourage the incidents.
Not surprisingly, still no word from Attorney General Holder, though.