Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Games

Watching a "Swatting" Slowly Unfold 246

netbuzz writes That online gamers have been victimized has unfortunately allowed us to see what "swatting" looks like from the perspective of the target: terrifying and potentially deadly. A similar type of criminally unnecessary SWAT scene played out Saturday night when a caller to police in Hopkinton, Mass., claimed to be holed up in the town's closed public library with two hostages and a bomb. The library stands within eyesight of the starting line for the Boston Marathon. An editor for Network World, there by happenstance, watched for two hours, and, while it was a hoax and no one was hurt, his account highlights the disruption and wastefulness these crimes inflict.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Watching a "Swatting" Slowly Unfold

Comments Filter:
  • call the library ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:00AM (#49414783)

    Wouldn't it be smarter for the police to call back the library, and ask if there's anything going on ?

    • by Galaga88 ( 148206 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:01AM (#49414791)

      If there's a real incident in progress, this wouldn't work. They'd either not answer, or be compelled by the people with guns to tell the cops that everything is a-okay.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by itzly ( 3699663 )

        If they don't answer (during regular operating hours) you at least have a confirmation that something is going on. If they answer, but they are compelled to lie to the police, I'm sure the police can figure that out. They can listen for trembling in their voice, background noises, or ask the person to say something about a book if there's an emergency going on.

      • by The Snowman ( 116231 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:50AM (#49415303)

        If there's a real incident in progress, this wouldn't work. They'd either not answer, or be compelled by the people with guns to tell the cops that everything is a-okay.

        I agree, nobody would answer. From the summary, nobody even has to read the article for this one:

        ...claimed to be holed up in the town's closed public library with two hostages and a bomb.

      • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @12:08PM (#49415501)

        If the incident was called in by the perpetrator, wouldn't you expect him to want the staff to confirm his story? Why would he lie?

        In fact, in most any hostage scenario I'd expect the perpetrators to want the staff to confirm their story - the whole point is to extract concessions, is it not? Ditto for a "suicide by cop" scenario. I'm having a hard time coming up with any scenario where the perpetrators would hole up in a public building and NOT want police and media attention.

        • I'm having a hard time coming up with any scenario where the perpetrators would hole up in a public building and NOT want police and media attention.

          How about the some dickwad wants to cream his jeans watching the SWAT drama unfold from the building across the street scenario; or even some wanabe perp reconnoitering the police response to fine-tune an intended future attack scenario?

          • And how does he NOT want police/media attention on the purported target in either of those scenarios? In fact, those are *exactly* the sort of scenarios where a call to the main desk would help prevent a lot of wasted resources.

          • I'm having a hard time coming up with any scenario where the perpetrators would hole up in a public building and NOT want police and media attention.

            How about the some dickwad wants to cream his jeans watching the SWAT drama unfold from the building across the street scenario; or even some wanabe perp reconnoitering the police response to fine-tune an intended future attack scenario?

            That dickwad then might go do an interview with network world... That guy's story doesn't sound super plausible to me.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          In fact, in most any hostage scenario I'd expect the perpetrators to want the staff to confirm their story - the whole point is to extract concessions, is it not? Ditto for a "suicide by cop" scenario. I'm having a hard time coming up with any scenario where the perpetrators would hole up in a public building and NOT want police and media attention.

          I dunno, let's say...

          Robbing a bank? You take people hostage so they don't act unpredictably until you get your cash. Then you run away, letting everyone go. You

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TraumaFox ( 1667643 )
      Hostage Taker: "No sir, no problems here!"
      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:06AM (#49414837)

        Why would the hostage taker first call 911 to say there's a hostage situation, and then deny it when they call him back ?

        • There is no guarantee they pretend to be the hostage taker. They could very well pretend to be a hostage.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Am I missing something here? A hostage calls 911 and reports the situation. They call the library the hostager picks up, says everything is fine here.

          • Yeah - you're missing that it's the supposed hostage taker that called 911. If it was a hostage, sure, maybe. Then again, what exactly is the point of taking hostages in a public building if you *don't* want police/media attention?

            • Then again, what exactly is the point of taking hostages in a public building if you *don't* want police/media attention?

              They said I had six books out already, I know I only had five... these things tend to spiral.

          • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @12:31PM (#49415695) Homepage Journal

            The first armed man put down the telephone. His accomplace briefly averted his eyes from us to glance at him, asking "Did they buy it?"

            "Sure thing. The police think it's just another night at the library, that the call they got was a hoax. Totally bought the line I was the night watchman. They have no idea about the hostages."

            "Good", said the first. "What now?"

            "Now", the first armed man replied, "We dial 911, and tell them we have hostages and list our demands..."

        • closed public library

      • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:25AM (#49415047) Homepage

        Han Solo: [sounding official] Uh, everything's under control. Situation normal.
        Police Officer Calling: What happened?
        Han Solo: [getting nervous] Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?
        Officer: We're sending a squad up.
        Han Solo: Uh, uh... negative, negative. We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous.
        Officer: Who is this? What's your operating number?
        Han Solo: Uh...
        [Han shoots the phone]
        Han Solo: [muttering] Boring conversation anyway. LUKE, WE'RE GONNA HAVE COMPANY!

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        "OK, great, we'll send in some SWAT officers to check it out. Have everyone stand by the wall with their hands on the wall above their heads. We'll just be 5 minutes."
    • by ooshna ( 1654125 )

      I see that working out well. Unless of course it isn't a hokes and the crazy guy with the hostages answers the phone with the police on the other line asking if things are ok because they just received a call. Which will end with a "I'm sorry someone wasted your time but everything is fine here." Or even worse "What the police?! Alright assholes which one of you called the pigs *gunshot* *gunshot* *screams* *heavy breathing* no no everything is fine."

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        Alright assholes which one of you called the pigs

        Read the article: "Police say they received the first of the perpetrator’s two calls just before 5:30 p.m."

      • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

        hokes

        hoax

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wouldn't it be smarter for the police to call back the library, and ask if there's anything going on ?

      In the rest of the civilized world the police has methods to approach situations like these in a more controlled manner, yes. But in the US, there is an incredible strong fear-based "what if?" premise to the narrative. Which leads to police methods working fine in other countries being ridiculed.

    • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

      Or just check where the call originated from? AFAIK all legitimate 911 calls have a location that is provided by the cell phone network to the 911 center. If the call is some sort of anonymous VOIP call that you can't verify where it originated from, DO NOT send the SWAT without figuring out what's going on...

      • Wouldn't using an anonymous VOIP service be what an actual paranoid criminal would do?
    • Wouldn't it be smarter for the police to call back the library, and ask if there's anything going on ?

      what, and miss an opportunity to scare the fuck out of^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H demonstrate their readiness and capability to the good citizens of Hopkinton? what Hopkinton obviously needs is a show of force from their police, less the taxpayers get it into their heads that reason and logic is more important than killing terrorists, even fake ones like the idiots responsible for this particular swatting.

  • by hatemonger ( 1671340 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:04AM (#49414817)
    Moderately interesting article. Too bad they decided to add the clickbait boston marathon reference. Makes me feel a little dirty for giving them a click.
    • Clickbait? Really?

      Given that there was actually a bombing at the Boston Marathon, how is this clickbait?

      The proximity to a place which has already had one terrorism incident pretty much means "what the hell else would you expect the police to do but treat it seriously?"

      You think a police department which has already lived through his kind of thing is simply going to say "nahh, we don't believe it"?

      I don't think you understand what clickbait actually means. The author isn't just dropping the name of that t

      • by hatemonger ( 1671340 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:28AM (#49415079)
        So you think police don't need to take threats seriously in places where they haven't already had terrorist attacks?

        He most certainly is dropping the "Boston Marathon" name to get more clicks. If it was actually relevant enough to base the article title on, then the implications, history, and potentially different police response would all get talked about in the article. As it stands, it's only mentioned once in an otherwise unnecessary last paragraph. Because it's clickbait.
      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:31AM (#49415101) Homepage

        The Boston Marathon is on April 20th. So a hostage situation on April 5th would be unrelated. It would be like saying "Armed robbery at Pizza parlor within sight of the Statue of Liberty" knowing that the Statue of Liberty can be seen for miles away. Or maybe "Armed robbery at Pizza parlor visited by Barack Obama" when Barack Obama was there last year.

  • Domestic Terrorism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:06AM (#49414829)

    Would it be overkill to consider swatting a form of domestic terrorism?

    It places people in imminent threat of bodily harm, definitely spreads fear - and the one that seems to tip the scales for me is that it intentionally disrupts the police's ability to respond to real threats and is basically derailing society's ability to defend itself.

    Okay, labeling it terrorism would probably be too much, but things like swatting strike me as attacks on society itself - which to me falls under my own definition of terrorism.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:21AM (#49414989)

      Let me put this clearly. We don't need a damn new enforcement of terrorism laws that they then can use to throw at the books of everyone and their grandma. There are laws already on the books for dealing with this from filing a false police report on up.

      What they need to do to put a stop to this is start putting people in jail for it and make people realize they cannot fake a call to 911 anonymously. Once the story makes the rounds that if you do it you will go to jail people will stop doing it. That's all you need to do, start putting the pranksters in prison for a year or so and giving them a felony record in the process and this will stop. But you have to prove to the public that if you make one of these calls you will be caught.

      But as long as the police departments treat it as a non-crime by not investigating it's only going to get worse. The for profit policing that the war on drugs had created discourages the police from pursuing real crime that's not tied to drugs.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        And if anyone is injured or killed, then accessory to attempted murder or murder.

        If any property is damaged, full liability right up to taking your pension, property and garnishing of wages.

      • But as long as the police departments treat it as a non-crime by not investigating it's only going to get worse. The for profit policing that the war on drugs had created discourages the police from pursuing real crime that's not tied to drugs.

        I seriously doubt any police department in the country that's been targetted by one of these pranks considers it a non-crime or refuses to investigate. The lack of convictions is likely because investigating this is hard and the almost certain cross jurisdictional n

      • What they need to do to put a stop to this is start putting people in jail for it and make people realize they cannot fake a call to 911 anonymously

        Well, is that even true?

        I've come to the conclusion that caller ID is completely worthless, because people just change it to anything they want .. because corporations fought to get exemptions to spoof caller ID because their business depends on it.

        I question if it is true that you can't call 911 anonymously. Because it would appear it happens all the damned ti

        • There are two caller ID's. The first is a spoof-able public bullshit version. There is a second private version that's unspoof-able (its assigned by the telecom). Though I would love to see a law that made caller ID truth a requirement the unspoof-able version could easily be used. You just need to require that all VOIP providers and PBX's keep logs for 90 days so they can be subpoenaed.

          Though I agree, I'd like to see congress change the law on Caller ID and require that it be real information and punishab

    • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:33AM (#49415117)

      Maybe. But there would be less risk of imminent harm if the police were less trigger-happy, better trained, more respectful of non-police, and more accountable for their actions.

    • 90% of what SWAT is "legitimately" used for is domestic terrorism if you use the same standard. When Maryland adopted a law that forced police departments to keep track of where and why they deploy SWAT and publish it (this happened after they mistakenly raided a house of a mayor in one of the small towns), the stats for the first year have immediately shown that people complaining about needless escalation were right all along [maryland.gov] - over 90% of the time SWAT is used to serve search (not arrest!) warrants, half

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:09AM (#49414861)

    Is because of the predictably over-the-top military reaction by the police.

    Why kick someone in the balls when you can shine a laser pointer at his crotch, and have his dog bite him there?

    De-escalate police reactions and you'll see this go away.

    • by Higaran ( 835598 )
      Ok, so what do you you expect the police to do? They got a call of a bomb threat with hostages, I think they did the right thing. If they send in one untrained patrol cop, and it was real and everyone gets killed, then everyone would be saying they didn't do enough. They called in people that are trained to handle these situations.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:15AM (#49414931)

    >> An editor for Network World....his account highlights the disruption and wastefulness these crimes inflict.

    Or encourages other people to aim their hoaxes at other cities with high per-capita media, such as New York, LA, DC...in the hopes they get national attention too.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:25AM (#49415033) Homepage Journal

    Better to call it "terrorism by proxy".

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      Better to call it "terrorism by proxy".

      Would it be overkill to consider swatting a form of domestic terrorism?

      Sure, why not? The word's been rendered meaningless already.

  • If someone calls in an active shooter situation, the police don't have time to get a patrol car out there and check it out. They need to respond like yesterday. A hostage situation probably allows for a greater degree of surveillance, but depending on the wording of the threat the police may be mentally put into a situation where they can credibly, fairly say they thought it was "now or never." Remember with Columbine, the police waited and a lot more people died. The VA Tech shooting was much the same way.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      the use of deadly force is authorized

      An anonymous phone call should not be the basis of authorization of deadly force.

      • So, what kind of credentials should be required when you call the police to report that you're hiding under a desk from a psycho with a gun?
        • I don't think if I was hiding under my desk I would be all that anonymous. I would likely be calling from my desk phone or my cellphone which happen to provide real caller ID info automatically
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:38AM (#49415171) Homepage
    Swatting is our warm colloquialism for the unintended consequences of the slow but progressive militarization of our local and regional police forces. forty years ago, the war on drugs and whats known in our nation as 'tough on crime' policies began to take the form of whatever our politicians fever-dreamed the nature of crime to be. California came out with 3 strike laws that relegated everything from bounced checks to jaywalking third offences to a minimum life sentence in prison, and the idea of civil forfeiture became a smart way to enact real-world consequences for movie-screen criminal caricatures. In america as it stands, thanks to the policies of carter, reagan, nixon, bush, and johnson, police officers can now purchase surplus military equipment for free, less shipping. And since america's chief export is war these days, we have a lot of surplus military equipment waiting to be used. This program ramped up after 9/11 and before we knew it, sleepy towns like Dothan Alabama owned tanks, mine resistent personnel vehicles, and millions of dollars in tactical military hardware such as night vision and machine guns with no realistic opportunity or purpose to utilize them.

    So without real use, these systems degrade and deteriorate and the cost to maintain them is, well, very expensive. as a result, police departments found themselves shoehorning equipment requesitioned from hand-me-down government transfer projects and knee-jerk terrorism overfunding into everything. Warrant service for taxes? SWAT and a 40 ton tank can handle that. peaceful parade against planned parenthood? sounds like a job for machineguns and nightvision. And finally, the SWATting. Its an innocuous situation where some crank-yanker calls in an odious situation that requires immediate action. Hostage situations and school shootings arent oustide the american experience, but our response is nothing short of lethal interception no matter how far fetched it seems that a hostage situation in the Dugal county truck stop mens room is taking place.

    Cops are baked in it. Theyve spend 30 years growing into this nonsense, that everything that isnt pulling over minorities in classic cars should be handled like a van damme movie. Their defense is often pretty good, noting that america is relatively unique in that citizenry can openly and easily procure weapons capable of quickly defeating both their body armor and their general defensive capability. But municipalities have no excuse for continuing to perpetuate this police-state response other than the obvious: theyre run by boomers and the elderly. People who have direct influence over the tactics and policy used by our police are obviously easily frightened. 24 hour news and internet forwards from grandma have reduced what should be a responsible, level-headed committee to a clamouring rats nest of assholes hovering somewhere between religious nationalism and dictatorial rule of law. the bottom line: cops arent soldiers, but we liketo pretend they are to make sure theyre ready to fight our boogeymen.
  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @11:56AM (#49415383) Journal

    To encourage more swatting simply:

    1. Post videos of swatting online.
    2. Post interviews of swatted people onlne.

    Also works for mass-shootings.

    • by HBI ( 604924 )

      By your logic, posting a video of prison anal rape of a person who did a swatting would reduce its frequency.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        BS, copycat crimes are a proven thing, google it.

        What YOU SAID is not logical at all. Deterrents rarely work, how's that 3 million people prison system thing going? Cost much?

  • Could it be the guy interviewing with network world? Seems like an absolutely perfect situation for a person interested in this sort of thing to find themselves in. My money's on that guy being the culprit.
  • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @02:06PM (#49416547)
    As long as the cops in the USA have the "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality, swatting will always be a problem. SWATing exploits the fact that cops are fucking stupid, scared animals, who are prone to alarmism, and itch for an excuse to use excessive force. They see no problem in roughing up many innocents to get a small handful of small time criminals. They are easy to trick, slow to think, quick to act.

    The solution is to re-examine SWAT team usage nation wide, and how they are used and for what. Until we do, SWATing will always be a threat. The solution is to fix the vulernbility by replacing a dangerous and broken system with one that works better.

  • by doug141 ( 863552 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @02:39PM (#49416831)

    when it affects someone in power.

My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer

Working...