MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ) – It turned out to be a hoax, but a chilling 911 call caused a scare for authorities and residents in Macomb County on Tuesday.
“The caller stated that he had shot his wife and that he was armed with a shotgun and he also had a rifle in the home,” said Macomb County Sheriff’s Lt. John Michalke, “and he also made the threat that if anybody came to the home that he would shoot them as well.”READ MORE: Former US Rep. Dan Benishek Of Michigan Dies At Age 69
A large contingent of officers rushed to the scene.
“We believed the call implicitly and we responded as though it were a real situation. We pulled resources from just about all hands on deck, and we surrounded the immediate area on Hollywood Court in Mount Clemens.”
After nearly an hour, Sheriff’s officials were able to determine that the homeowner was not home. They found him at this job nearby and realized he hadn’t made the prank call and knew nothing about what had happened.READ MORE: Michigan Moves To Fund Mental Health Like Physical Health
Michalke said they have some leads on the culprit, but are asking anyone with information to give them a call as the investigation continues.
The term “swatting” is used to describe a scam such as this in which someone calls 911 and makes a false report — sometimes with the intention of sharing video of the scene online or just observing the resulting police activity for the thrill.
State laws passed in 2012 to make it a felony to falsely report a crime or a medical emergency, with penalties of up to four years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. If someone is injured during the response to the prank, the caller faces up to 10 years in prison; 15 years if someone is killed.MORE NEWS: Michigan Matters: Impacting Health & Well-Being Across Metro Region
The laws also allow that “swatters” be ordered to reimburse all costs associated with the calls. The FBI has estimated that a single swatting incident can cost up to $10,000.