Deputies investigating after pranksters place 'swatting' call

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff's Office is investigating after SWAT teams responded to a falsely reported shooting Tuesday, authorities said.

Just after 9 p.m., the Sheriff's Office received a call from someone saying a relative had been shot in a home on Ziegler Place in Palm Coast.

When asked what happened, the caller said men with AK-47s entered the home and shot her relative, according to FCSO. When a deputy in uniform arrived at the home, he discovered a man in the garage who then closed the garage door and refused to come out, investigators said.

After two hours of the man not contacting deputies, an FCSO SWAT team broke down the door and found the man, who said he was scared to come out because he was recently robbed by "police" in Daytona Beach and thought he was being robbed again, according to the Sheriff's Office.

No one was found injured during a search of the home, which led investigators to determine no crime had occurred and the man did not call 911. The man will not be charged, deputies said.

The investigation later revealed the initial shooting call was made by a person calling from an unknown location, FCSO said.

"This type of incident is called 'Swatting,' which involves someone calling law enforcement to falsely report an incident with the hopes of drawing a response from tactical officers," the Sheriff's Office announced in a news release Monday.

"Swatting" is illegal and the prank can be very dangerous, Flagler County Sheriff James Manfre said.

"We have quick responses with lights and sirens and deploy specially trained deputies to address what is believed to be a high-profile incident. We have the potential for an encounter with a citizen(s) who may not know a prank has been played on them. We also have to contend with the expenses generated from the incident to include fuel, overtime and materials used to properly handle the situation," Sheiff Manfre said.

Investigators continue to work to determine who made the call.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 386-313-4911. To remain anonymous and receive a possible cash reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-8477 (TIPS).