MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – This past week a family was terrified when the SWAT team came to their home with automatic weapons drawn after a fake police call.
Police call it "swatting" and those caught can be charged with a felony offense.
They were responding to a 911 call made through AT&T Instant Messaging for the deaf.
"I have a caller on the line. His name is Jeffrey and he says that his house got shot at and his mom got shot in the neck," said the AT&T operator who called Murfreesboro 911.
The dispatch then sent SWAT to the home.
"All units be advised the caller is in the bedroom calling us through the relay center. The shooters are still in the residence," said dispatch to SWAT members who arrived and surrounded the home.
"It scared the heck out of us," said the homeowner who asked not to be identified.
"When my daughter opened the door there was a gun right at her forehead and he told her to get down," the homeowner continued.
Not long after that the SWAT team discovered it was all a hoax.
"They surprised a family who was minding their own business at home," said Kyle Evans with the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Evans said SWAT had no choice to take the call seriously. He said someone hacked into the Relay Center to make the bogus call targeting this family. The family does not fault the police. In fact they appreciate their quick response. But it was all a set up.
"Basically what this is a game called swatting," said Evans.
He said swatting is becoming a problem nationwide. It pulls SWAT teams from legitimate calls and also endangers both team members and homeowners.
Police investigators are trying to track who made the call.