Prank Phone Call Leads To Lockdown And Police Presence

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WILLIMANTIC — Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with a hoax call to police on Tuesday in which a distraught person claimed to have shot his mother inside their home on High Street.

The call tied up a dozen police officers and lead to lockdowns at Eastern Connecticut State UniversityWindham High School and Kramer School for several hours before the prank was uncovered.

The teen is charged with second-degree false report, falsely reporting an incident concerning serious injury or death, disorderly conduct and conspiracy. He was released to his parents and is scheduled to appear in juvenile court next week.

Police said he admitted holding a grudge against one of the juvenile residents of the High Street house and to paying someone from Great Britain to “swat” the address — to call and trick emergency responders, such as SWAT units, into thinking there was an emergency there. The caller tried masking his British accent, police said.

“It’s a lot more serious than a prank. It puts the residents’ lives in danger,” said police Det. Douglas Glode. “They don’t know what’s going on; there’s dozens of police officers surrounding their house. It also puts the officers in danger.”

About a dozen police officers and detectives responded to High Street, while the caller, who identified himself by name as the homeowner, continued to speak with dispatchers. A hostage negotiator was patched through to the caller, who said he had shot his mother, had a gun in his hand and was afraid to come outside, police said.

The residents of the home noticed the police activity, and some of them left the house to find out what was happening. Four juveniles and an adult male from the house were interviewed at the scene. Police then learned that there was no shooting or any other emergency at the house.

Detectives received a tip about a potential suspect behind the hoax, and found the 14-year-old suspect walking in the rain and brought him to his home.

The teen also told police he walked to the house on High Street and then walked away when he saw the police cars, police said.

“Swatting” sometimes involves using technology that makes it look as if the call is coming from the victim’s home. In this incident, the caller used the homeowner’s name to make the report appear realistic, police said.

By Hilda Munoz, Hartford Courant.

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