Crime

Toddville couple unknowing participant in 'swatting' hoax

Linn County Sheriff's deputies near the intersection of Toddville Road and Feather Ridge Road in Toddville on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (Chris Earl/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9)
Linn County Sheriff's deputies near the intersection of Toddville Road and Feather Ridge Road in Toddville on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (Chris Earl/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9)

TODDVILLE — Officers surrounded a home in the 3800 block of Toddville Road this week after someone called in a fake emergency.

A caller dialed the Robins police department claiming to have shot an individual and threatening to hurt more people.

The call rerouted to dispatchers with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and led to a response from several agencies.

Inside the home, Charles Chenze and his wife quietly sat in the living room.

“My wife saw the car outside with the lights on it,” Charles said. “I got up to investigate and look at it, and I saw another white car, no markings, no lights.”

He stepped outside and spotted two law enforcement officers in his front yard.

“They asked if anyone was in the house and I said, ‘Yeah, my wife,’” Charles said. “Then they asked us to come outside.”

Officers walked through the Chenze home but found no signs of any crime. Maj. Gerald Hansel said the call was a prank — something officers call “swatting.”

Hansel said even if a call is a hoax, officers respond as if it’s a real emergency.

“We immediately try to set up a perimeter of the possible crime scene, then we essentially stage until everyone is in place,” he said.

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Hansel said that process for a swatting call can pull officers away from real emergencies and there are several possible motives behind the calls.

“He’s checking our response, maybe he doesn’t like someone so he’s trying to get them in trouble,” Hansel said.

Hansel said the calls could also be a joke, but the consequences are serious.

“There are criminal charges,” he said. “That includes filing false reports. Depending on what they claim has happened or what is about to happen, that determines the severity.”

Linn County has received three swatting calls in the last twelve months. The other two incidents include a call in Fairfax in December 2014 and the another in Robins in March 2015.

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