GROSSE POINTE PARK (WWJ) – Police say a two hour-long “hostage situation” in Grosse Pointe Park that sent officers through the neighborhood with guns drawn turned out to be a gigantic hoax.
It happened early Thursday morning on Lakepointe Street, between Charlevoix and Vernor.
Police Chief David Hiller said officers responded to the two-family home around 5:15 a.m. after receiving a call about a homicide. The caller told police a woman was dead and a man inside the home was holding two hostages.
Officers quickly responded to the scene and established a perimeter around the home. SWAT teams spread out around the neighborhood with guns drawn and told nearby residents to stay inside.
Police were on the scene for just over two hours before the situation ended peacefully and the 37-year-old man, along with his wife, was taken to the station for further questioning. No injuries were reported.
“We have since secured the house and there is no homicide,” Hiller told reporters at the scene. “We treated it for real and when they said he was in custody it was a huge relief for everyone. And to find out the woman was OK, absolutely, especially the guys who were there, relieved.”
The couple was taken to the police station but after talking with investigators, Hiller said things just didn’t add up.
“We were able to listen to the recording of the phone calls that we received at the department and it became apparent to us that this apparently, even though this person had the right name and address, this might have been a fraud-type call,” Hiller told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “So, with the help of the phone companies we were able to determine that this was in fact a fraud call, commonly referred to as ‘swatting.’ Our resident had nothing to do with it.”
Hiller said the man, who has since been released from custody, actually had no idea police had surrounded his neighborhood.
“We had a viable threat indicating that he’s going to shoot any uniformed officer that comes to his house, so we’re not going to send an officer to the house. We had to activate the special response team, and that takes a little bit of time, but we kept the area secure. When the special response team arrived, they made the first contact and he came out the door immediately, obviously not even knowing what was going on even,” Hiller said.
Hiller said the focus of the investigation has now turned to identifying just who made that initial phone call.
“We believe it’s an out-of-state number but we may be chasing a ghost, we’re not sure,” said Hiller. “But I want everyone to know this was a hoax. Our resident had nothing to do with it.”
Residents were surprised to wake up to such a large police presence in their neighborhood. Chuck Lewis was headed to work when he pulled out of his driveway and noticed police were blocking both ends of his street.
“They started flashing a light in my driver’s window so I rolled it down and they told me to pull over where they were at, so I did,” Lewis told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell. “They had weapons in their hands, took me around the corner and told me to head that way. I asked them what was going on because my son was still in the house and they said just call him and tell him to stay inside.”
Lewis said the situation made him extremely uneasy because nothing like this has happened near his home before.
“It’s normally a real quiet neighborhood, you know, families with everybody sitting outside on their porches and stuff,” he said.
It’s unclear if the incident is connected to a similar situation that played out in nearby Keego Harbor on Wednesday. In that case, police say they received a 911 call saying a resident had shot his wife and had his daughters chained up or tied up in the basement. Both claims turned out to be false.
An investigation is ongoing.