Taunton Police are investigating after a fraudulent 911 call drew a large police and police presence and caused neighbors to evacuate their homes.
According to Chief Edward J. Walsh, Taunton Police received a 911 call at 3:11 p.m. this afternoon “from a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone in which a caller told dispatchers he had murdered his girlfriend and intended to harm himself in a house in Williams Street.
Multiple police, fire and EMS units responded to the scene with mutual aid from other departments and the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC) SWAT team and trained police negotiators.
Four nearby houses were also evacuated as a precaution.
When the police arrived, however, they found no one at home. They were able to contact the actual resident of the address, who police say was in another city at the time and “reported that he was unaware of anything unusual going on. producing at his home,” police said. The 911 call was later determined to be a hoax, and after sweeping the area, residents were allowed to return to their homes. The stage was cleared at 5:30 p.m.
Police say it appears to be a case of “swatting”, in which a prank is passed to emergency services, attempting to lure a large number of armed police to a particular address. According to Taunton Police, he has been recognized as a criminal phenomenon by the FBI since at least 2008.
“Swatting is an extremely dangerous practice that affects and ties up vital police and emergency resources, diverting them from where they might be needed to help in a real emergency,” Chief Walsh said.
The prank call remains under investigation.
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