NEWTON, N.C. (WBTV) – A Newton family says they are still traumatized after being the victim of a hoax called “Swatting” over the weekend.
“I haven’t been able to stop crying,” mother Karen Prince said. “And my hands are shaking since it happened.”
Police say around 10:30 Saturday night someone called claiming they were Sean Prince, Karen’s son. The caller also used the mother’s address. The caller informed them he shot and killed his girlfriend and was thinking about killing his parents, who he said he was holding hostage.
Catawba County SWAT teams quickly came to the house prepared to kick down the door. The caller told police he had a 12 gauge shot gun.
“I have never been so scared in my life,” the mother said. Police called the family. The family had no idea what was going on.
“I hear my son on the phone,” the mother said. “Don’t hurt us. Don’t shoot us. We are coming downstairs.”
Once the family got downstairs, they were greeted by SWAT members on the front yard.
“We come to the front porch,” the mother said, “And it’s like ‘get down here. Get on your knees. Drop to your knees. Get down now,’ and I am saying what in the hell is going on? We haven’t done anything.”
Officers zip-tied the parents and the son when the family came out.
“A bit of my hand was poking out of the top,” the son said. “So they put a metal set on me as well, so they had me in two sets of handcuffs while I was freaking out.”
Police started asking questions and determined it was a prank call, and that the family had been “Swatted.”
“Until we know it is a hoax,” Catawba County Captain Joel Fish said, “We have to treat it as real. It’s unfortunate that people are doing this.”
It is believed the suspect got the son’s name and address from the online gaming website Twitch, which the son uses all the time.
“I don’t understand why,” Sean Prince said. “Why I am a target?”
Sean told WBTV he has no idea who would do this to him and says the night his family got “Swatted,” he will always remember.
“Just have to facing a firing line of assault weapons and cops,” Prince said. “And Swat team – when you have done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s terrifying.”
Officials with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office say they can’t remember this type of incident happening in their county. Officers hope to trace the call to the suspect, and give a warning to people who want to do this.
“I just hope gamers realize that this is actually a life and death thing,” Karen said. “That they are playing and refrain from doing this in the future.”
The mother is upset police never apologized. She wants the suspect caught and punished.
“I would love see them prosecuted,” the mother said. “I would love to see it, if not I would love to have five minutes with them, absolutely. Because honestly, how do you get over something like that – not feeling safe in your own home?”
It is important to know anyone can be “Swatted.” It is advised be careful with your personal information online.
If police suddenly show up at your house, follow orders. If you think you could be a target – call police and give them your phone number. Tell them to call your house first before responding to a violent 911 call coming from your home.
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