"Swatting" Part II
This is Part II of an article started last night entitled “Could you be the victim of Swatting?”. Last month, I described to you a new, troubling phenomenon called “swatting.” This is where someone phones in a false call to an emergency service, such as a Police Department, with a fabricated emergency, such as “John Smith, is threatening to kill his wife, and has barred himself in the house with guns and ammunition.” The police then send in the “SWAT Team” (hence the name swatting). Last month, we described how this troubling phenomenon is spreading across the country, now here’s part two:
Closer to home, the undersigned was in court with a client on a relatively routine, though disputed probate matter. We were taking testimony from various witnesses, including my client, when the Judge abruptly halted the hearing, and excused himself from the Bench. Minutes later, about ten men entered the courtroom, about half of which were wearing police or sheriff uniforms, and the other half were in place clothes, perhaps off duty officers.
My client was physically escorted out of the courtroom, and into a conference room; I went with her to see what was happening. One of the officers indicated that they had received a report that my client was armed and had a gun, and had threatened the Judge. They further said that my client had posted a video online where she was seen pouring blood on the courthouse steps.
I asked to see the video, and they replayed a video to my client and myself. I then asked to speak to my client privately. What she told me privately was that she did not have a gun, did not own a gun, and what the video showed was her pouring red Kool-aid, not on the courthouse steps, but at the steps of City Hall, on the day after the US Supreme Court decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade case. She speculated that it was another family member involved in the Probate dispute who would have sent the video to the police, because it had to be someone who knew that we were going to be in court at that particular hour, and it had to be someone within her inner circle with whom she would have shared the video online.
The officers checked us (including myself) for weapons and finding none, we were allowed to go back into the courtroom. However, I can say that the Judge concluded the hearing minutes later, ruled against my client, and that was the end of the hearing.
Could it happen to you? The courthouse that we were in is in a small local county that does not do screening metals or weapons.
The ten or so officers that entered the courtroom were on high alert, and things could have gone very badly. In this case, my client was fortunate that she only lost the hearing, and nothing more. But, I suspect we all will see more and more of these “swatting” incidents.