"Swatting" is a "prank" that involves calling the police on Twitch streamers for bogus crimes. They get arrested mid-stream, one (anonymous) person in the whole damn world has a good laugh, and nobody else wins. This time it got way out of hand.
Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson, founder of popular streaming collective The Creatures, was streaming Counter-Strike from a Littleton, Colorado office when it happened. You can see the full video here:
The short version? A full-blown SWAT team burst into Mathewson's space, brandishing rather large weapons while shouting things like "GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND" and "PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK RIGHT NOW."
In most instances of swatting, this is where it ends. Not so this time around, however. Colorado's 9 News reports that this SWAT effort was especially door-smashy and shout-shouty because they'd received an anonymous tip from someone claiming to have killed several of their co-workers and planted bombs inside the building where Mathewson resided.
As a result of the huge SWAT and police response, multiple schools in the area went on full lockdown. People nearby were also evacuated while police searched for bombs and the (non-existent) (non) killer.
Here is the city of Littleton's full statement on the matter:
" Littleton Police Detectives are investigating the origin of the 911 call received this morning regarding the reported shooting at 1221 West Mineral Avenue. The caller claimed to have shot two co-workers, held others hostage, and threatened to shoot them. He stated that if the officers entered he would shoot them as well. There were no victims or any evidence that a shooting had taken place."
"Law enforcement in the South Metro Area and throughout the country are all too familiar with active shooter situations. In the wake of these incidents, Littleton Police and other law enforcement agencies train for rapid response to quickly rescue victims and neutralize the situation."
"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."
"If the investigation determines that today's incident was a hoax, those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The lesson? Don't fucking swat people. Ever. It's massively dangerous and irresponsible.
I asked Twitch about their policy for responding to this and other similar fiascos, but they had sadly little to offer. A Twitch rep simply told me, "When these things happen, we are always willing to work with law enforcement."
This is hardly the first time swatting has happened, though. In actuality, it's been going on for years among hackers and groups of the like. Recently a number of streamers have had to pause their games (and sometimes their lives) because of pranks that land them on cold floors and/or in detention cells.
Earlier this month, for instance, popular streamer WhiteBoy7thst got an unexpected visit from the men and women in uniform while streaming DayZ. He and his girlfriend ended up getting arrested on marijuana possession charges.
He'd been charged with drug possession before (Update: This is apparently false. We apologize for the error), but still, the point remains the same: this is a "prank" with real world consequences. Huge ones, potentially.
Thankfully no one was actually hurt during the incident in Littleton, Colorado. Still, this is not the sort of prank I would ever venture to call harmless.
Thanks, Daily Dot.