The FBI revealed Friday that it has created a national database to track incidents of “swatting” across the U.S.
So-called “swatting” occurs when prank callers contact law enforcement, usually via 911, and falsely report an active shooting or other dangerous crime occurring in a certain location, with the aim of sending police to the hoaxers’ target victim or victims at that site.
While celebrities—including Tom Cruise, Rhianna and Justin Bieber—have all been victims of swatting, recent incidents have more commonly targeted schools.
More than two dozen schools in Massachusetts were the target of swatting during just one day in March. The very next day, numerous schools in Utah, Pennsylvania, California and Kansas were swatted.
The FBI’s new database follows a plea from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who said in April, “We need all federal hands on deck to support local law enforcement and hold perpetrators of these disturbing hoax calls accountable.”
In 2021, a 60-year-old Tennessee man died of a heart attack when police raided his home in response to a swatting call. An 18-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison in the incident.
The new FBI database has already tracked 129 swatting incidents since the start of May, according to a statement from the Bureau.