On January 24, 2018 at approximately 11:10 p.m. the Sterling Heights Police Department received a 911 call that a shooting just occurred at a residence in the 39000 block of Pinebrook Dr. in Sterling Heights.
The male caller stated that he had just shot his father in the head, and he was holding his mother and two sisters hostage. The suspect stated that he was in possession of an AK-47 and had secured pipe bombs around the hostages feet. The suspect was also demanding $10,000 ransom money from the police for the release of the hostages. Ultimately, the Sterling Heights SWAT team was called to the scene to handle the incident. After much investigation, it was found that this call was a swatting call that was actually meant for a different address in Sterling Heights. This swatting call was stemming from a dispute that started on social media. Due to this swatting call numerous police personnel were called to this incident which consumed a lot of time, and resources that could have been utilized in the city during this incident. Furthermore, innocent bystanders are put at risk with a very dangerous situation whenever the police are called to these incidents that appear, at first, to be legitimate. The Sterling Heights Police Department Investigation Bureau is aggressively investigating this incident to locate and charge the suspect.
On July 6, 2017 the Sterling Heights Police Department had a similar swatting call which lead to the arrest of a suspect. In that case, the suspect was charged with false report of terrorism, and using a computer device to commit a crime which both carry 20 years in jail. The required cost of reimbursement to the city from the suspect in that case was $41,000.
These types of incidents not only bring significant criminal and financial penalties, they create very dangerous situations for the public. Nationally you are seeing an increase in these swatting calls, the recent swatting event that occurred in Wichita, Kansas led to an innocent victim of a targeted swatting call being killed by police.
The Sterling Heights Police Department wants to remind the public that swatting calls are not a joke, and are matters that are taken very seriously. In a lot of cases these types of incidents are involving juveniles or young adults that use social media to harass or bully other young adults by calling in false reports of crimes. The Sterling Heights Police would like to remind parents to be very mindful and pay close attention to their kids social media accounts to help prevent these types of incidents from occurring.