Teen accused of 'swatting' in Westmoreland County
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, 11:12 a.m.
Officers responding to a reported violent domestic attack at a Washington Township home on Jan. 8 were stumped.
There wasn't a woman with a gunshot wound, as someone reported to Westmoreland 911 at about 4:54 p.m.
And there was no firearm-wielding man inside the Hoover Drive residence.
“Everybody was confused as to what was going on,” said township police Chief Scott Slagle.
Multiple search warrants eventually led investigators to Georgia, where a juvenile male was charged with false reports last month by Gwinnett County police in connection with the incident, according to Westmoreland County detectives.
Westmoreland Detective John Clark declined to release the defendant's age.
“An incident like that, you can file the charges where it started or where it occurred,” Clark said.
The practice of using a device to make a fictitious report of a violent crime, prompting an emergency response, is called “SWATting,” according to a news release issued by county detectives. The targeted party typically is unaware of the report.
“It's becoming rampant,” Slagle said.
The Georgia juvenile allegedly reported to Westmoreland 911 through an emergency message-relay service on a computer that shots had been fired at the Hoover Drive residence, he said.
“An adult party inside the house was supposed to have a gun and there were additional family members inside,” according to the news release.
Investigators learned that a girl living in the home had been conversing over the Internet with the Georgia juvenile.
Slagle said the juvenile allegedly pretended to be a girl while communicating with Westmoreland 911.
Search warrants served on an Internet provider and a computer owner helped investigators to locate a suspect.
County detectives were assisted by Gwinnett County police, who conducted interviews in the area of Lilburn, Ga.
Gwinnett County police confirmed that a juvenile suspect has been charged.
“Although these incidents are considered a prank by the person who makes the report, the targeted individual is often placed in immediate danger when he/she is abruptly confronted and detained by responding law enforcement officers who have been informed the targeted individual just committed a violent crime,” according to the news release.
A man at the Hoover Drive home was detained while police searched the home on Jan. 8.
“Luckily, he was very cooperative with us,” Slagle said.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
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