Swatting call leads to massive police response at Ford's Garage in Lakeland
LAKELAND, Fla. - More than a dozen Lakeland police officers swarmed Ford's Garage Monday afternoon after a caller told 911 that an active shooter was inside the restaurant. Officers said it ended up being a prank known as swatting.
The 911 caller said 24 people had been shot, and he and eight other survivors were hiding in a bathroom.
When officers arrived at Ford's Garage, they discovered it was a prank commonly known as swatting. Swatting is when someone calls law enforcement to report a fake situation just to see officers will respond.
Even though the call was bogus, it still shook up the restaurant’s general manager.
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"It made me go home and get my son out of bed and give him a big hug," Steve Holm said.
Swatting has seen a rise nationally, but law enforcement officials said it's a waste of resources, tax dollars, and it can be dangerous.
"Whether it is a few minutes or a lot of time, it involves our officers responding to the scene, EMS, paramedics. So, all of those resources that have been used, could be used for something else," said Robin Tillett, spokesperson for the Lakeland Police Department.
It was not a total surprise that the caller was not telling the truth. Police said it is unlikely that in a chaotic mass casualty situation that anyone would know the exact number of injured people.
The caller also sent up another red flag. He told 911 he was calling from the restaurant's house number. Caller ID showed another one.
Lakeland police are now trying to track down the caller and charge him with a criminal offense. The state attorney’s office said if convicted, he could face jail or even prison time.