Police: 'Swatting' incident causes panic in Wilton neighborhood

Wilton Police said the false alarm of a shooting Friday night was a

Wilton Police said the false alarm of a shooting Friday night was a “swatting” incident, where someone fakes a local number to report an excessively violent crime in order to get a large police reaction. The investigation remains open.

Contributed photo / Wilton Police Department

WILTON — A false report about a man threatening suicide and claiming to have killed his mother and was holding his siblings hostage turned out to be a “swatting” incident that caused a brief panic for some residents Friday night.

A Ring camera alert, which came out around 8:20 p.m., said authorities were responding to a possible shooting in the area of Boulder Brook and Mountain roads. A similar message was posted on the Next Door app.

At approximately 9:15 p.m. Friday, Wilton Police Chief John Lynch told Hearst Connecticut Media it was a false alarm. He also updated residents on Facebook with the same information.

On Monday, Wilton Police’s Public Information Office, Lt. Gregg Phillipson, said investigators determined the call they received was a “swatting” incident.

“We got a call from a male who was threatening suicide. He told us he was suicidal, and that he already killed his mother and was holding his siblings hostage,” Phillipson said.

Within 30 minutes, it was determined to be a “hoax,” he said. The residence the police responded to had a different family living there.

“We believe it was a swatting incident,” Phillipson said.

It wasn’t directed at the residents at the address itself, he said, it is just to “mess with police.”

What is swatting?

According to 911.gov, swatting is false reporting an emergency to public safety by a person for the intent of getting a “SWAT team” response to a location where no emergency exists.

The person calling 911 will often report they are involved or are nearby as a witness to a home invasion, active shooter, or hostage situation, attempting to muster the largest response possible. The law enforcement response is usually substantial, with police confronting the unsuspecting victims at gunpoint, only to learn that there is no real emergency.

Those who attempt to cause a swatting incident use several techniques, including: caller ID spoofing, TTY relay technologies, and social engineering. The caller will often have a reasonable scenario and will sometime include personal information. Reasons for swatting vary — sometimes it is viewed as a fun prank, while other times it is used for retaliation against the victim.

Phillipson said swatting is often related to online gaming, but it wasn’t believed to be related to the Friday night incident.

While he said it was the first time that he could recall it happening in Wilton, he said it happens in Fairfield County regularly.

Wilton Police said the incident remains under investigation.