DULUTH, MN– This week, the Duluth Police Department responded to reports of a shooting, but when they arrived on scene they quickly realized it was a fake call.
On Wednesday night, police received reports of a suicidal male and another person shot at the 2200 block of E. 2nd Street.
But the call came with a twist.
“They showed up in full force and by talking to the resident, they quickly realized that it was not a legitimate call,” said Ingrid Hornibrook, Duluth’s public information officer.
The call was what is known as swatting.
“Swatting is a spoof call in order to get a larger police presence or swat presence to a house, ” said Hornibrook.
And the crimes reported can be very serious.
“They’re reporting crimes as serious as active shooter crimes, murder-suicide crimes, or threats to murder-suicide,” she said.
Officials said these calls are a major distraction.
“They drain on our resources, and more importantly, it takes us away from legitimate police calls where people actually need help,” said Hornibrook.
It’s not common in Duluth, but it is nationwide.
A couple of years ago, a swatting case in Kansas turned fatal.
“In one case, officers responded, and the person coming out of the house acted in a way and had something in his hand that justified in the officer’s mind shooting that person fatally,” said Hornibrook.
The Duluth Police Department has a message for anyone considering swatting.
“Don’t make the swatting call. It’s illegal and dangerous. But if you suspect you’re a victim of swatting, don’t do anything that would precipitate an escalated police response,” said Hornibrook.
It would cost the Duluth Swat Team anywhere from $1,200 to $1,600 for a four-hour call.
Officials said if someone participates in swatting, it’s considered a gross misdemeanor.