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Police: Another video gamer victim of 'swatting'

Last week in Kitsap County and this week in Thurston County teens have been targeted by online gaming competitors, draining police resources and threatening public safety.

Another Western Washington kid has been the victim of a "swatting" hoax through an online video game service. This time, a 13-year-old in Rainier was the target.

Lieutenant Greg Elwin, with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, says they have reason to believe someone named "Matt" in Maryland was behind the false alarm.

"AT&T was the Internet service provider, so AT&T calls us and says, 'Hey, we're getting these messages about this hostage situation,' and so they're relaying to us over the phone the messages that they're getting electronically," says Elwin.

The first message came in around 8:50 p.m. Tuesday night. The person allegedly stated that they were in the home and would be shot if they tried to leave. Six deputies, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, raced over to the home and surprised the young gamer, who was there alone.

The 13-year-old told deputies that he had been threatened last month over Xbox by someone who said they were going to "swat" him. The teen seemed to know exactly what that meant, although Elwin says he had never heard the term before.

"What swatting is, the way this kid describes it, is that they make up this stuff in hopes that the swat team will show up at your house," explains Elwin.

Two hours later, around 10:58 p.m., another call came in to 911 from the same service provider with the message claiming to be from the same Rainier address. This time, the father in the home was allegedly holding a knife to the grandmother's throat and had a gun pointed at the grandfather.

"Which is amazing because in the first call, dad was bleeding from gunshot wounds, so he's recovered remarkably for the second call," Elwin says.

The sheriff's office did contact the teen and his father again. Since the first call, the boy had still been gaming online. He told deputies that someone named "Matt" had been bragging about swatting his home. The Rainier boy saved the information to his flash drive and turned it over to investigators.

Just last week, the same thing happened to a teen in Kitsap County. It looks like a gamer in Canada might be to blame in that case.

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About the Author

Kim Shepard is a news anchor and reporter for the Ron and Don Show on KIRO Radio. She's energetic, quick to laugh and has a positive outlook on life.


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