Hercules family falls victim to terrifying swatting prank

HERCULES, Calif. (KGO) -- Hercules Police are investigating a hoax 911 call that resulted in a full police response to an unsuspecting family's home. A similar incident in Kansas a day later resulted in an unarmed man being shot and killed by police. The prank calls are known as "swatting" because of the full police "SWAT" response the calls elicit.

The family who was targeted does not want to be identified but spoke out to bring awareness to the dangerous nature of the crime.

"As soon as I got to the front door I could see all of the spotlights shine right up to me," said the young father and husband who lives in Hercules.

A swarm of police officers, weapons drawn, surrounded the unsuspecting family around 11:30 at night on December 27th. A mother, father, two kids, and grandparents walked-out with their hands-up from their home on police command.

"My son just kept asking, 'Why are there guns pointed in my face? Why are my daddy arrested? What's going on?'" said the mother. She carried her four-year-old son outside.

Unbeknownst to them, a caller had made a fake 911 call targeting their address.

Hercules Reserve Detective and Public Information Officer Connie Van Putten details the call saying, "The dispatcher told them (officers) that they had a caller on the line that sounded like a young male indicating that there was somebody in his house. He said he had heard shots and his mother screaming and that he was hiding in his bedroom."

The young father went outside in his bathrobe. He put his hands up, but then police told him to open his robe with his right hand. Fearing he could be shot he said no.

"At that point I smiled and I looked at him and was like, 'Hell no. I'm not reaching for anything," he said.

The family says Hercules police traced the call to a cell phone with a 213 area code, that's Southern California.

Another "swatting" incident happened in Kansas the next day. Police shot and killed an unarmed man as he exited his home and moved his hand to his waistband. He too had nothing to do with the 911 call. It's a similar scenario, but different ending.

"Yeah, my heart goes out to that family. It's tough. I'm sorry. Sorry," said the Hercules father as he got emotional over the magnitude of the situation.

The family wants answers. "Why were we targeted? I mean this is a sick prank," said the mother.

Police are looking into the possibility the cases could be connected. A Southern California man was arrested in the Kansas incident.
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