Police are investigating an apparent “swatting” hoax call made by a disgruntled gamer after his character was killed while playing “Call of Duty.”
A SWAT unit was called to a home Tuesday afternoon in Long Beach, New York, after a man called police via Skype to say he had just shot his mother and brother and threatened to kill others.
But the heavily armed officers instead found only a terrified woman and a teenager playing video games when they surrounded the home.
Investigators think one of the boy’s video game opponents made the call in revenge after losing in “Call of Duty.”
“When people (are) playing a video game, if they lose, they call the police and mimic the person that they lost to and say that they’ve killed family members, and then they see how many people they can get to come down there,” said Michael Tangney, Long Beach police commissioner.
Officers said 17-year-old Rafael Castillo, who is off school for spring break, was wearing gaming headphones when they arrived and did not initially respond to call from police as they surrounded the home.
“He was quite stunned. He was very shaken up by it,” Tangney said. “He had no idea we were coming so we really caught him by the element of surprise.”
The teen’s brother arrived home for lunch to find police had shut down the neighborhood, and he initially thought there was a fire at his house.
“One of the police officers said somebody called and said that the mother and brother of somebody in this house was killed,” said 21-year-old Jose Castillo. “I said ‘how is that possible if she’s right there and I’m right here?’”
Authorities say the “swatting” prank has targeted celebrities in the past, but it has recently been linked to vengeful gamers.
“In this bizarre world of Swatting, you get points for the helicopter, for the police cars, for the SWAT team, for the type of entry,” Tangney said. “It’s very sophisticated. Unfortunately, it’s very dangerous.”
Police have not yet identified the prank caller, but they hope to track him down using his IP address.
Investigators said the caller likely used the teen’s IP address to find his home address.
Watch this video report posted online by WNYW-TV: