Police: Orange Park homeowner victim of 'swatting'

Fake call that man shot two people at home was hoax, police say

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - An Orange Park man whose home was stormed by police Thursday morning was the victim of what's called a "swatting" attack, authorities said.

Chief Gary Goble said officers swarmed the Wells Landing Drive home after the Clay County Sheriff's Office got a phone call indicating a suicidal man had shot two people with an AK-47 in the home.

In reality, no shooting had taken place. Once police surrounded the home, they were able to speak with the homeowner who discredited the initial report. Officers who went inside found no one there.

Ultimately, no one was hurt, but things could have turned out much worse.

Goble said it appears the man who lives there was a victim of "swatting," which happens when someone phones in a false report of a crime at another person's home.

An officer who answered the door when a News4Jax crew went by the home said the residents who live there have no comment on the incident.

Though the incident was a false alarm, authorities weren't taking any chances. The whole street was blocked off as police and fire department vehicles and dozens of first responders flooded the area.

The scene was an unusual sight in what neighbors described as a typically quiet neighborhood.

"Several officers I've seen going in their vehicles and get their cases and their rifles and run back to their SWAT vehicle," said neighbor Chase Bernardi.

Det. Cody Monroe said police took steps to verify the report before any officers approached the home.

"This is done as good practice and best prevents any tragedy as we have unfortunately seen elsewhere in the country," he said.

He said it's unclear how much the emergency response cost, but noted it was "significant," adding that the wasted man hours would be taken into account when charges are brought against the caller.

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