SAINT JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. — All because of an online video game, a local family is now traumatized after becoming the latest target of swatting.
“I was so scared I thought I was going to have a heart attack, says Patrycja Przybyslawski, a victim of the swatting.” My heart was bouncing.”
It was a typical Sunday evening watching TV in the living room, until Patrycja looked outside her window, and saw a person looking back at her.
“Then I saw a gigantic gun pointing at my head,” Patrycja recalls.
It was about 14 Saint Joe County officers responding to a disturbing call that pointed them to the home address, but the caller on the other end, and online video gamer.
“I was just playing the game and he said to look outside your window and all I see is like, flash lights and guns and they’re behind my mom’s car with shields,” says one of Patrycja’s sons, Dominik.
It’s called ‘swatting’, an increasingly popular term being used to describe this exact situation; an online video gamer making false, yet disturbing phone calls to 911 in hopes that their online opponent gets surprisingly swatted by police.
“A call like that, obviously it’s nature of the beast, you have to take everything at face value, it’s really serious,” says Saint Joseph County Warrants Division and SWAT Commander, Sergeant Chris Lawson-Rulli.
The gamer who caused the swatting situation was someone that Dominik and his brother played X-Box games with frequently, and actually warned him days before he would be getting swatted soon.
“He said that he was going to swat us, then I told my dad on Saturday that we’re probably going to get swatted cause he said it wasn’t his first time and stuff,” Dominik says. “Then we got swatted on Sunday.”
The family now worries for their safety, as well as the safety of other online gamers who may fall victim to a swatting situation.
“If he knows our address, first and last name, phone number, that he’s going to come over here and do something to us,” Patrycja worries. “What’s the kid going to do next?”
Not only are hoax calls like these scary for the families involves, but it also affects the community that becomes less protected when officers respond to non-existent threats.
“The area’s not being serviced,” says Sergeant Lawson-Rulli. “Those 14 officers are paying attention to this prank call, and not out there helping people with crashes or any other emergency situation that we can respond to.”
Officials say there is an open and thorough investigation being done now by the Detective Bureau about the swatting situation, and Patrycja warns fellow parents with children that play online games to pay more attention to who they may be playing with.