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Hays Police: 911 call a 'cruel hoax'

3/2/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

"Swatting" has made its way to Hays, and Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler is planning to do everything he can to help catch the person responsible.

A 911 call received by police dispatchers at 5:14 p.m. Wednesday reported a disturbance in the 2500 block of Pine Street.

The caller, claiming to be a child inside the house, reported seven people with guns had entered the residence, and his father had been struck on the head.

"So then at this point, it sounded like we had a home invasion going on," Scheibler said.

Officers from Hays PD and the Ellis County Sheriff's office responded and set up perimeter around the house to make sure no one would be able to get away.

That's when police were able to make contact with the occupants of the house, who were told to come outside.

Authorities then determined the incident was a "cruel hoax," not only on the law enforcement, but the occupants of the residence as well.

Scheibler said the call was "spoofed," made to look like it was originating from the residence where the supposed home invasion was occurring.

"At this time, we believe this incident is what's called a swatting incident," he said.

It's something that's all the rage in some areas, the idea of calling police and reporting a serious incident to attract hordes of police, who often dispatch SWAT teams to the scene.

In the Hays case, Scheibler said the department's Special Situation and Response Team was not called out, although several members of the team were on duty at the time and responded to the incident.

Often, he said, the people responsible watch as the incident draws authorities or boast of their actions to others.

Scheibler and the FBI -- assisting in the incident in Hays -- call it a serious crime.

"These people are the type of people who are involved in other types of crimes," he said, pointing to identity theft.

The FBI actively has been involved in the investigation of these types of incidents.

Scheibler said the Hays High Tech Crime Unit also will be joining the investigation, trying to identify the person spoofing the call.

Despite his angst over the "swatting" incident, he's grateful it wasn't a home invasion case.

"I'm glad we didn't have a home invasion going on," he said.

But he cautioned, "this is a crime. It's not a joke. It's a crime, and we're going to investigate it."