WARRICK CO., Ind. (WFIE) - The Warrick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a “swatting” incident from earlier this week.
The term “swatting” refers to when someone calls law enforcement to falsely report information that might prompt a heavy law enforcement response to a specific location, sometimes involving a SWAT team.
It happened to a Newburgh family after an online hacker stole some of their private information, including their home address. The hacker called 911 posing as the family’s son.
He gave dispatchers the family’s address and said he shot his sister. He then told dispatchers that he was going to “finish her off” and threatened to shoot any law enforcement officers who might show up.
Law enforcement then showed up with a heavy presence outside the home on Huntington Ridge Circle in Newburgh. The family inside was confused and scared.
“My heart stopped, then it was racing and I was confused,” Shelia Naab said. “I wanted to cry but I was just trying to keep it together so I could figure out what in the world was going on.”
After speaking on the phone with the family, the officers and deputies on scene realized it was a hoax. Sheriff Mike Wilder says these high intensity moments, mixed with confusion, often escalate.
“The officers may have thought that the real suspect was inside, there could have been a confrontation,” Sheriff Wilder said. “Shots fired either way, there are a lot of bad outcomes.”
Thankfully, authorities got to the truth quickly and nobody was hurt. The investigation to find who was on the other end of that original 911 phone call continues.
“I commend our officers, I commend the victims, which was the homeowners at that time,” Sheriff Wilder said. “Because they’re probably looking outside seeing police officers standing around with their guns pointed at them.”
“So in those situations, please do as the officers are ordering you to do, and it all worked out great,” Wilder continued. “But no one knew what was going on. Not the homeowners, not the officers, but everybody did a good job in the end.”