A 19-year-old Washington state man is due in court on Monday to face accusations he hacked into emergency 911 systems and faked a call that a sent SWAT team to the home of a sleeping family 750 miles away.
Police allege Randall Ellis of Mukilteo, Washington, illegally accessed a phone system in Orange County, California and placed a bogus emergency call that appeared to come from a residence he picked at random. The caller reported as a teenaged drug user who had been shot in the shoulder and that attackers were going to shoot and kill his sister.
Shortly after the 11:30 p.m. call, SWAT officers armed with assault rifles, dogs and a helicopter descended on Lake Forrest, California, according to this article in The Orange County Register. The commotion woke one of the residents, who armed himself with a kitchen knife and slipped outside.
Officers eventually cuffed the resident and his wife as their two toddlers slept.
Ellis is scheduled to appear in an Orange County courtroom to answer to charges of computer access and fraud, false imprisonment by violence, falsely reporting a crime and assault with an assault weapon by proxy, according to the paper. Authorities believe the teen has falsified other 911 calls that created similar SWAT responses in Bullhead, Arizona; Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania and in his hometown.
Authorities call the practice "SWATting" and say it's on the rise. ®