COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- It’s called “swatting”: a dangerous prank where someone calls 911 and reports an active shooter.
At about 10:40 this morning, sergeants, deputies and even Marine Patrol responded to what they thought was a shooting threat in Cottage Grove. However, it was nothing but a costly false alarm.
"We were told there were weapons aimed at us as we approached (the house),” said Lane County Sgt. Carrie Carver. “And there's a high likelihood that someone could get injured in a call like this, which is a huge concern because safety is our number one priority."
When deputies arrived on Center Street, they were expecting the worst: an active shooter in a home. They approached the scene with weapons locked and loaded. But thankfully besides a case of frayed nerves, no one was hurt. The real casualties were people who called 911 with real needs.
"There's a lot of frustration when deputies respond to something like this, take time away from folks who really need the help out there and spend their time on something that essentially amounted to a prank, a very costly and dangerous prank,” Carver said.
The list of emergency calls that were put on hold for this is beyond frustrating for law enforcement. Police are working on tracing back the call, as the suspect for this false report has still not been found. But the punishment is severe. According to Carver, this could be categorized as reckless endangerment, a punishment up to one year in prison, a maximum $5,000 fine or both.
Deputies are still on the hunt as they trace back the initial call. It’s a difficult, tedious task but one they will continue to pursue.