Two SWAT units, a robot, a drone, a helicopter, and two armored vehicles were deployed in response to a 911 call that turned out to be a hoax, police say.
The incident occurred on Wednesday morning, September 2nd in Sebastian, Florida.
According to TC Palm News, emergency personnel received a 911 call at approximately 8:10 a.m. stating that a woman had been shot five times by her son inside their home in the 800 block of Gilbert Street, a house that actually belonged to retired truck driver Garland Lewis.
In response to the serious call, law officials deployed a SWAT team, complete with two SWAT units, a robot, a drone, a helicopter, and two armored vehicles, setting up tactical positions, blocking roads, directing traffic and working their way toward the house.
Lewis, who was asleep inside his home when the SWAT team arrived, was described by police as “a little bit surprised,” when he was instructed by law enforcement to come out of his home with his hands up.
“My first reaction was seeing the SWAT team with rifles pointed at me … so … fear,” said Lewis, who was barefoot and shirtless as he emerged from his house.
“I was woke up from a dead sleep with no information … It was an ordeal to say the least,” he said.
Police then removed Lewis and two other people from the residence and used a drone and a wheeled-robot to check the home for threats before taking the three individuals into custody.
“Of course, with all the things going on with the police, I made sure I was abiding by what they told me. I didn’t want to have no incident like that,” he explained, adding that he wasn’t told anything about the call or alleged shooting until the ordeal was nearly over.
“I couldn’t get anything out of them until they brought me back home,” he said.
Lewis says he believes that the call may be related to a recent incidence of cyber bullying and harassment aimed at a relative of his girlfriend, who lives in the house with Lewis. Just a few days earlier, an unwanted order of pizzas was sent to the house, which Lewis believes is connected to the more serious fake 911 call.
“Hey, that’s a joke, I get that,” he said. “This was something totally different,” he said.
“Supposedly it was ‘Sarah Connors’ who made the call reporting all this. The only ‘Sarah Connors’ I know is from ‘The Terminator,’” he added.
“I just walked by my window and saw the guy with the gun,” said Sherry Penta, a neighbor.
“It was quite shocking. I’m sad to hear it was a hoax, but glad to hear it was a hoax,” she said.
Detectives are now trying to track down the source of the call.
“This is a swatting [fake emergency] call and we will be investigating it,” said Sebastian Police Department Spokesman Lt. Timothy Wood.
“A lot of time, money and resources … were put into this call that ended up being essentially a hoax.”
The FBI says that “swatting” first became prevalent in 2008, calling it a “new phenomenon.” Investigators have the number used to make the fake call, but say it appears to have been randomly generated.
False reports to law enforcement are a criminal offense, up to a third-degree felony, and is punishable by up to five years in prison or up to a $5,000 fine.
“We will definitely, obviously take it to the fullest degree of what we can as far as the crime that was committed,” Wood said.
“I hope they … lock him up,” Lewis concluded. “Teach him a lesson.”