How a Family Almost Got Shot and Gassed: a Swatting Story

MASTACHIEFPWN

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Zetatrain said:
France: RAID
That's such an appropriate acronym.

OT: People who do this deserve to have their doors kicked in by police soldiers and be shipped off to prison, but really, police should be able to trace where these calls are coming from.
 

geizr

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BinDipper said:
shirkbot said:
geizr said:
Mortis Nuncius said:
Zetatrain said:
I don't think that militarization of the police force is a factor as much as some people think at least in the case of swatting.
Most countries do indeed have their own equivalent of SWAT.

Just to name a few

Britain: SO19
Canada: ERT (Emergency Response Team)
France: RAID
Germany: GSG-9
Belgium: CGSU
Finland: Karhu Team/Bear Team
Australia: SPG or TOU

While the average USA police officer is more heavily armed than his/her foreign counterparts, SWAT units and their equivalents are not your average police officer.
Well that only makes the question "why doesn't this happen outside of the U.S.?" more interesting.
Are the SWAT teams being deployed too eagerly? Is it really a good idea to deploy such force for an isolated unconfirmed call? Why isn't police work being done to confirm these suspect reports before such force is used?

This issue has really bugged me since I heard the story of Bounkham ?Bou Bou? Phonesavanh, a one year old who had a hole blown in his chest by a concussion grenade during a raid prompted by false information. It makes me wonder, do they do any actual police work before knocking down the door and pointing guns at everybody?

I can't think of any reason why this only happens in the states, besides a gung-ho, dirty harry, shoot first do actual police work later culture.
In my opinion, SWAT is a bit like the fire department. Have you ever seen the response of the fire department to an emergency call? They can go pretty hard-core and have to do so, even though the call could just be a prank. The problem is that, much like the fire department, the severity of situations in which SWAT teams are necessary are the kinds of situations that can escalate rapidly out of hand if the response is slow or insufficient. Now, granted, SWAT members can be trained to remain more level-headed to assess the immediate situation before taking action (honestly, I can't imagine that they aren't already trained in this regard, considering what's often at stake when they are called to a real scene), but again, they must have the ability to do so very rapidly, as, again, the situations to which they normally respond can escalate out-of-control fairly rapidly.

This is why I advocate for better tracking, tracing, and identification on the backend. More accountability needs to exist on the backend to make sure that if someone is going to call in the SWAT, they better have a damn good reason and real need for it. Making it more likely that someone trying to pull a prank of this magnitude will suffer extreme, dire consequences, I think, would lessen the chance that this sort of situation would develop. It won't necessarily eliminate it, but if the prankster has to think twice about his own hide, he's less likely to do it.

In more direct answer to "why doesn't this happen outside the US?", likely it does happen a lot outside the US. You just don't hear about it as much as you do in the case of the US. Reporting bias is something for which you have to account.
 

Zetatrain

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BinDipper said:
Zetatrain said:
I don't think that militarization of the police force is a factor as much as some people think at least in the case of swatting.
Most countries do indeed have their own equivalent of SWAT.

Just to name a few

Britain: SO19
Canada: ERT (Emergency Response Team)
France: RAID
Germany: GSG-9
Belgium: CGSU
Finland: Karhu Team/Bear Team
Australia: SPG or TOU

While the average USA police officer is armed more than his/her foreign counterparts, SWAT units and their equivalents are not your average police officer.
Well that only makes the question "why doesn't this happen outside of the U.S.?" more interesting.
Are the SWAT teams being deployed too eagerly? Is it really a good idea to deploy such force for an isolated unconfirmed call? Why isn't police work being done to confirm these suspect reports before such force is used?

This issue has really bugged me since I heard the story of Bounkham ?Bou Bou? Phonesavanh, a one year old who had a hole blown in his chest by a concussion grenade during a raid prompted by false information. It makes me wonder, do they do any actual police work before knocking down the door and pointing guns at everybody?

I can't think of any reason why this only happens in the states, besides a gung-ho, dirty harry, shoot first do actual police work later culture.
Probably a little bit of everything you just said

Lack of training and faulty procedures could be why incidents like this happen.

Though another thing that should probably be considered is that since other countries have tighter restrictions on firearms they have far less instances were a SWAT team is required and therefore less chances to screw up. There is also the whole "War on drugs" that the US has going which seems to be the cause of a lot of SWAT deployments such as the example you posted.
 

SexyGarfield

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008Zulu said:
So do these trolls really think they are getting away with it? 911/emergency service numbers in general, automatically logs your number and address you are calling from (the police system bypasses all those blocked number filters) before the first word is uttered. Can't call 911 over Skype, so you can't hide that way either. Do they not think these things through? Need tougher penalties I say.
I always imagined that the ones that get away with it use burner cellphones in outdoor areas unlikely to have cameras and then take out the battery where the call was made and destroy/dispose of the phone elsewhere. What's $15 against your freedom?
 

Subatomic

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Zetatrain said:
BinDipper said:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?
erbkaiser said:
Most other countries don't have an overly militarized police force. US cops in a random small town are better supplied with weapons than most countries' military forces.
Matthi205 said:
In most other countries, police forces aren't allowed that heavy armament.
I don't think that militarization of the police force is a factor as much as some people think at least in the case of swatting.
Most countries do indeed have their own equivalent of SWAT.

Just to name a few

Britain: SO19
Canada: ERT (Emergency Response Team)
France: RAID
Germany: GSG-9
Belgium: CGSU
Finland: Karhu Team/Bear Team
Australia: SPG or TOU

While the average USA police officer is more heavily armed than his/her foreign counterparts, SWAT units and their equivalents are not your average police officer.
Correction: The German equivalent to SWAT isn't the GSG-9, it's the SEK (Spezialeinsatzkommando, or Special Operations Command). The GSG-9 is a very specialized anti terrorism unit within the federal police that is deployed very rarely and mostly in secret... in the last ten years, there were only a handful of publicly known missions by the GSG-9.
The SEKs on the other hand are part of the individual state's police forces and roughly equivalent to SWAT in the US.
 

Vivi22

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008Zulu said:
So do these trolls really think they are getting away with it? 911/emergency service numbers in general, automatically logs your number and address you are calling from (the police system bypasses all those blocked number filters) before the first word is uttered. Can't call 911 over Skype, so you can't hide that way either. Do they not think these things through? Need tougher penalties I say.
You don't seem to realize that getting your hands on a cheap burner or pre-paid cell phone is child's play and can't be tracked easily, if at all.

If most people knew how easy it is to actually get away with this they'd be a lot more afraid of it I think.

But a huge part of the problem here isn't just the fact that you have assholes calling in false reports and getting people raided by SWAT teams, but the fact that SWAT teams are frequently the first ones called in to deal with damn near anything. Policing is no doubt a dangerous job, but when you start relying on the guys who are trained specifically for going in guns blazing (not really, but relatively speaking they might as well be compared to your average cop) for everything from serving warrants to investigating reports of shots fired in a residential area or whatever else, you're asking for something to go wrong. These days SWAT teams are overused and under trained for the myriad of situations they regularly get called into. Often their training would actually conflict with what should be reasonable practice even, and nothing good will ever come of that.
 

Zetatrain

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Subatomic said:
Correction: The German equivalent to SWAT isn't the GSG-9, it's the SEK (Spezialeinsatzkommando, or Special Operations Command). The GSG-9 is a very specialized anti terrorism unit within the federal police that is deployed very rarely and mostly in secret... in the last ten years, there were only a handful of publicly known missions by the GSG-9.
The SEKs on the other hand are part of the individual state's police forces and roughly equivalent to SWAT in the US.
Ah, I see, thanks for correcting me. I'll admit I always find it odd that special task force not tied to the military would carry out operations inside and outside its borders so I always assumed that GSG-9 was divided into separate divisions. Never occurred to me that there was an entirely separate group that handles the more...mundane operations in Germany.
 

Yozozo

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Mar 28, 2009
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Th37thTrump3t said:
Every time I see a story on Swatting, I lose more and more hope for humanity. Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea?

Duffy13 said:
You will also notice that there haven't been any reports of people being shot during one of these, which speaks about SWATs specific and higher training requirements.
There was a story a couple weeks ago where some 15 yr old kid swatted someone who beat him in a few games of Battlefield and he swatted the guy, which resulted in the father of the victim being shot and critically wounded. The kid ended up being convicted on two counts of domestic terrorism and was sentenced to 25-life.
The story is only a week old

url redacted

I honestly don't know how I feel, but yea, this twit caused severe injury through his actions, and should be punished. 25 years though... seems a bit much.

EDIT: Story is a hoax, nationalreport just wants to be like the Onion.
 

EternallyBored

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Jun 17, 2013
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BinDipper said:
Well that only makes the question "why doesn't this happen outside of the U.S.?" more interesting.
Are the SWAT teams being deployed too eagerly? Is it really a good idea to deploy such force for an isolated unconfirmed call? Why isn't police work being done to confirm these suspect reports before such force is used?

This issue has really bugged me since I heard the story of Bounkham ?Bou Bou? Phonesavanh, a one year old who had a hole blown in his chest by a concussion grenade during a raid prompted by false information. It makes me wonder, do they do any actual police work before knocking down the door and pointing guns at everybody?

I can't think of any reason why this only happens in the states, besides a gung-ho, dirty harry, shoot first do actual police work later culture.
It has happened outside the U.S., as far as I know it has happened in France, Germany, and Canada, it also isn't all U.S. callers, one of the recent arrests was a teenager in Canada who was making SWAT calls into the U.S. When and if it happens in countries like Russia or China, we don't know because it is very unlikely that it would even be reported on.

It happens a lot more in the U.S. for a number of other factors. As other posters have mentioned, gun culture means you are much more likely to run into a heavily armed opponent in the U.S. than you are in say the U.K. or Germany.

Another factor is history, with the recent wave of mass shootings, many places are paranoid and they don't want to be the police department that under-responded to the next Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech shooting. Even further back, the U.S. has had incidents like that army guard guy that stole a tank and rode it around San Diego, or the Hollywood bank robbery where the robbers were so well armored that police had to take rifles from a nearby gun store to bring the suspects down.

Another factor is our war on drugs, 9/11 and the military surplus provision program. There is a law in place that allows local police departments to purchase surplus vehicles, weapons, and supplies directly from the department of defense, a program that ramped up under the department of homeland security after 9/11. The fear of terrorism spurred a lot of police departments into buying a lot of military surplus gear, gear that has only increased in availability with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, leaving the department of defense and U.S. military equipment manufacturers with a lot of unused equipment they want to unload.

By the standards set down for those laws, a lot of that equipment is given on an as needed basis, so a local police department purchases a ton of military gear for almost nothing, and they are stipulated that they have to use this gear or the federal government takes it back. So you end up with these military equipped SWAT teams who are being told that they need to put that gear to use at least once a year or it will be taken from them, so they have a lot of incentive to break out the SWAT teams and justify to the feds that they need that gear. It's a vicious cycle that both the drug war and these SWATters take advantage of for their own ends.
 

EternallyBored

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Yozozo said:
Th37thTrump3t said:
Every time I see a story on Swatting, I lose more and more hope for humanity. Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea?

Duffy13 said:
You will also notice that there haven't been any reports of people being shot during one of these, which speaks about SWATs specific and higher training requirements.
There was a story a couple weeks ago where some 15 yr old kid swatted someone who beat him in a few games of Battlefield and he swatted the guy, which resulted in the father of the victim being shot and critically wounded. The kid ended up being convicted on two counts of domestic terrorism and was sentenced to 25-life.
The story is only a week old

http://nationalreport.net/15-year-old-swatted-domestic-terrorism/

I honestly don't know how I feel, but yea, this twit caused severe injury through his actions, and should be punished. 25 years though... seems a bit much.
Ok, I have to mention this again since apparently people keep believing this, that story is fake, the National Report is a satire site like the Onion, the video is about a completely different crime, for god's sake the site is currently showing a headline about how Hillary Clinton is a genetic descendant of Jack the Ripper and that California is giving free medical marijuana to Black people.
 

Th37thTrump3t

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Yozozo said:
Th37thTrump3t said:
The story is only a week old

http://nationalreport.net/15-year-old-swatted-domestic-terrorism/
Eh, the past couple weeks have been going by so slowly for me it feels like a month went by.

I honestly don't know how I feel, but yea, this twit caused severe injury through his actions, and should be punished. 25 years though... seems a bit much.
They were just throwing the book at him to make an example. Yeah, it sucks for the kid since his life is pretty much over, but I have a hard time sympathizing for stupidity, and think we all know the adage about playing with fire.
 

Saika Renegade

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This is the sort of thing that makes me profoundly disappointed that the article about a guy getting 25-life for swatting was a parody instead of the real thing. I would be the first person to metaphorically kick such a person while they were down if they received serious jail time for this sort of idiotic and frankly reckless behavior.

Tricking nervous officers already in a high-risk job into danger-close situations simply to troll is reckless endangerment at the very least and homicide by proxy at the very worst. It's only a matter of time before this 'prank' gets someone killed, much like the knockout game, which is already the sort of thing where, in a theoretical scenario where I witnessed the puncher get shot by their victim immediately afterwards, I would offer first aid to the person who got punched first.
 

Phil the Nervous

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The wikipedia article on swatting mentions a Twitch streamer getting arrested for possession, apparently the swat team searched his house looking for a bomb and found a bag of marijuana.

It's only tangentially related, but it seems worrisome that this kind of situation can override the need for a warrant.
 

Qizx

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Phil the Nervous said:
The wikipedia article on swatting mentions a Twitch streamer getting arrested for possession, apparently the swat team searched his house looking for a bomb and found a bag of marijuana.

It's only tangentially related, but it seems worrisome that this kind of situation can override the need for a warrant.
Now I'm no lawyer at all but does that work? If they DO find illegal materials I thought they can't press charges if it's an unjustified entry? Either way that's fucking absurd.

EDIT: I'm going off a story I only vaguely remember from years ago where I think a guy got off for illegally having a gun because they ruled the police didn't have a right to search him in the first place.
 

elvor0

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tdylan said:
I didn't watch the video because the article, I think, explains it well enough. My problem with all of these is that yes "how does it get to this point?" I understand a SWAT team reporting to what they believe to be a legitimate threat, but the "barging in the door, safeties off" does not seem like the best approach to me. I understand that it's not like in the movies, but in those tense situations, do they not worry about shooting the wrong person?

For example, let's say that it is legit, and the criminal has hostages. SWAT barges into the room, the criminal is startled, and a frightened hostage sees this as an opportunity to flee. So they do. SWAT sees the hostage, but only recognizes it as "someone moving quickly," so they shoot first, ask questions after. Now we have a dead innocent person because they didn't bother to gather any intel on the room that they were about to break into. Assume these are real threats: shouldn't they at least try to get an idea of how many people are in the room, and how many of them might be threats BEFORE barging in? And also where they are, so that they don't barge into the room and end up getting shot in the back by someone unaccounted for?
I'll echo the sentiments of a few other people, and while those are valid and obviously very reasonable concernes, it perhaps seems quicker, less planned out and less "ordered" than it actually is. Obviously to the person being swatted, it all happens very quickly, but they do tend to come up with a plan before they barge in, just /we/ and the person being swatted only see them barge through the door. And of course, like people have said, they can't risk it being a genuine case, true, all they see is a person sitting at a computer, but they've been called in for a threat, who knows what else is happening in there, or what /has/ happened, as far as they're concerned?

Luckilly, SWAT teams tend to be trained to a significantly higher degree than your average US police officer, and don't quite succumb to the problem of "shoot first, ask later" like some trigger happy US officers have. They exist purely for high threat, high risk situations and require the necessary training and personality to deal with those situations.


tdylan said:
Personally, if I'm sitting at my computer when my door kicks in, I don't think "SWAT team," I think "home invasion. I need to protect my wife and daughter." With that state of mind, I'm not apt to comply just because someone is yelling "get down on the floor." In the panic, for all I know, it's a criminal yelling that at me. Assume they also have lights shining in my eyes so I can't identify them as police, and all they see is a guy running toward them. I get gunned down because "we were responding to a call, breached, and a suspect rushed us." That's what makes these type of situations unsettling to me. Some asshole wants to call the police, fine. They show up? Good. They're being prudent. But if I were to call the fire department saying there was a fire, do they kick in the door with hoses going? Or do they assess the situation first so that they know what they're getting into?
This, on the other hand I haven't really got a response to. Yes that is a very likely scenario that could happen. I just hope it doesn't. But again, they don't just rock up and run in guns akimbo.

Matthi205 said:
BinDipper said:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

I think that may be part of it. In most other countries, police forces aren't allowed that heavy armament. It may also be that most of the idiots calling the police haven't been caught.
BinDipper said:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?

But they're not really the police, they don't patrol the streets, they don't walk around with heavy arms all the time. There's been a case in France, but it is a bit harder to do so in other countries, the US just has a bit more of a fear factor when it comes to this sort of stuff. It also has a /very/ large amount of guns that are reasonably easy to get hold of and people willing to use them for criminal acts.

If standard coppers had heavy machine guns and everything else, then you'd be right, but these arn't the standard police, they're a SWAT team, they exist purely to respond to high risk, high threat situations, which you /do/ need, because situations like that going to pop up, otherwise they just sit around at SWAT HQ. Now I'm pretty pro-gun control, but until that gets sorted out, in a country like the US where guns are rife, you do need to have an appropriate response, which are SWAT teams, who recieve much higher training and standard of personnel than police officers. For all intents and purposes, they're a domestic military team, not militarized police.

In the UK, we'd send in the SAS for threats our Armed Response Squads can't or couldn't handle(generally ARS are armed with the same as US police officer, while standard UK police have...a baton, but only because gun crime is so low), which is rare, because we have less gun crime, it's no different from sending in SWAT for a situation that requires more than just a bog standard copper, which is appropriate because of the higher gun crime rate in the US.

PerfectDeath said:
So, I recall watching the twitch stream clip of a streamer who had the SWAT show up during a stream and the footage was caught on webcam.

These are definitely intense situations and while the SWAT officers are well trained, there was one in that stream raid which retorted to the streamer lightly chuckling, "What's so F***ing funny?"

I felt like going in there and decking that idiot officer in the face!

Seriously, when a bunch of armed men with automated guns had pinned you to the ground with firearms trained on you calling you a piece of shit, you panic. This often illicits a forced smile and even some forced laughter to show that you are friendly, a self preservation response to calm the attackers down.
Lets think this through: As far as he's concerned, he's just been called in to arrest highly dangerous criminals; if one of them starts laughing, that's cause for concern. Is there a bomb? Does his mate have a shotgun trained on him? Are the hostages already dead? Is he just fucking insane?
 

direkiller

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008Zulu said:
So do these trolls really think they are getting away with it? 911/emergency service numbers in general, automatically logs your number and address you are calling from (the police system bypasses all those blocked number filters) before the first word is uttered. Can't call 911 over Skype, so you can't hide that way either. Do they not think these things through? Need tougher penalties I say.
There are ways to spoof numbers(a few of the cases have calls made from local gas stations when no one made a call from that location)
a few websites sites will do it for a small charge.
Mind you this is a crime that carries a hefty fine in the US, but it makes this rather hard to track after a certain point.
 

SexyGarfield

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Qizx said:
Phil the Nervous said:
The wikipedia article on swatting mentions a Twitch streamer getting arrested for possession, apparently the swat team searched his house looking for a bomb and found a bag of marijuana.

It's only tangentially related, but it seems worrisome that this kind of situation can override the need for a warrant.
Now I'm no lawyer at all but does that work? If they DO find illegal materials I thought they can't press charges if it's an unjustified entry? Either way that's fucking absurd.

EDIT: I'm going off a story I only vaguely remember from years ago where I think a guy got off for illegally having a gun because they ruled the police didn't have a right to search him in the first place.
From what I understand, as long as the officer has a legal right to be in a place where he can detect contraband it is all good to press charges. Responding to a possible threat gives them the right as terrible as that is.

The Plain Sight Doctrine said:
If a law enforcement officer has a legal right to be in plain sight or can smell parts of illegal contraband, they have the right to seize the contraband or evidence and arrest individuals. However, if an officer finds the items illegally, contraband may be seized, but cannot be used as evidence in criminal courts.

http://www.lawfirms.com/resources/criminal-defense/defendants-rights/search-seizure.htm
 

AtomChicken

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If you want opinions on police militarization, look no further than Radley Balko, as for the Swatting stuff, hackers and crackers may think its fun, but egos and e-penis waving is what does them in the long run. Bragging, mockery, and Internet fame are giant ego boons, but bad for trying to remain anonymous. If there's a recurring theme, these kids try to to pull shit off for the Lulz, then get a real wakeup call when they find themselves in the real legal shitter. Frankly, I have no sympathy for the idiots that think this is fun - they're playing with a barrel full of napalm, and the consequences are simply life shattering.

20+ years, a permanent felony, and prison bunking with Bubba. Even when they get out, that felony is going to permanently exclude them from society.
 

Baresark

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BinDipper said:
Question, is "swatting" a thing in anywhere but the U.S.?
I've not heard of any cases outside the U.S.
Is this another symptom of the police-as-military-just-without-the-training culture in the U.S.?
I think it's extremely short sighted to blame this on the police. They get a call that they MUST take as serious. The calls almost universally include confession of murder of women and/or children or holding hostages or both. Any police agency on the planet would treat it just as serious, even if there were no equivalent to SWAT teams in other countries. I'm not saying the police in the US are not over militarized, but it doesn't make sense to blame them. This happens because some piece of crap thinks it's funny to almost get people killed. That is the only reason this happens. Not because police are militarized, that is a whole other issue that you can't possibly blame this on.
 

renegade7

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The thing is (and this is a general response to the people saying that the SWAT teams in question should plan more and try to understand more before kicking doors in) that it's like a 9-1-1 call. No matter how little the responders have to go on, it's the law that they have to respond. They can't risk someone dying just because the call sounded dubious.

If it weren't for this fact, then there would be people who would die in real emergencies.

That's why these trolls are doubly assholes. Not only are they terrorizing and risking the lives of the people they're pranking, but they're also abusing a system that has no choice but to go along with their bullshit.