The hoax call claimed there was a ‘hostage’ situation
David Hogg has been targeted by a prank that saw his home swatted by armed police after an anonymous hoax 911 call. The teenager and his family weren’t actually home at the time that officers from the Broward sheriff’s office ambushed the residence in response to what they believed to be a hostage situation.
“The call was regarding someone in the home with a weapon,” Gina Carter, a BSO spokesperson, told the Guardian. “We responded to the home and cleared the property. It was established that the call was a hoax and detectives are investigating to try to find out who made the call.”
Two schools in the Parkland area were placed on a temporary lockdown. However, police were able to inform the family of what had happened and learned that they were safe in Washington DC. Hogg was actually in the capital to receive the RF Kennedy human rights award alongside other Parkland survivors.
This could have been a potentially dangerous situation. The growing trend of swatting has seen hoax callers weaponise the American police by dispatching armed officers to the workplaces of online figures, and residences of celebrities like Chris Brown and Justin Bieber. By calling 911 and reporting a hostile and potentially violent crime, it's likely that a militarised SWAT team will descend on a victim’s location ready to shoot or harm a criminal when they arrive at the scene.
In 2014, Jordan Mathewson was streaming himself playing video games on the internet when someone sent a SWAT team to his office claiming that there was a shoot out happening in the office block, and that the shooter would shoot the police too. In a statement at the time the Denver police said: “Fortunately there were no injuries today, but a massive law enforcement response wastes resources and greatly increases the chances of innocent people being injured or killed.”
A similar “swatting” call made by a California man led to a man in Wichita, Kansas being shot dead by local police in January.
Activists from the Parkland school shooting have been targeted by trolls since they announced they were going to push for gun reform. In April, an image of Hogg’s face was used as target practice by a pro-Trump troll and uploaded on Twitter. Emma Gonzalez has been accused of ripping up the constitution, and was called a “skinhead lesbian” and “bald-faced liar” by a Republican candidate.