CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield couple had the shock of a lifetime after their home was surrounded by an armed SWAT team early Saturday morning.
Andrew and Judy Kristensen were victims of what’s called a “swatting” prank, which is when someone makes a prank call to law enforcement in order to dispatch a large amount of armed police - or the SWAT team - to an address.
The situation shutdown a Midlothian area neighborhood for several hours.
The two say they were live streaming video games on their online Twitch platform upstairs in their home Friday night only to be forced out of their home at gunpoint.
Andrew says swat teams had their home surrounded for nearly two hours, only noticing the commotion after he getting a call from his brother.
“So, I pick up the phone and it’s my brother and he says, ‘Hey dude, everyone’s looking for you. There are police at your door, you need to go let them in. You’ve been swatted,’” Andrew said.
Just outside their Midlothian home early Saturday, there was a search plane in the sky, a row of squad cars on the ground and dozens of armed officers.
“They had a bullhorn yelling our names, they were trying to get us to surrender," said Andrew. "Meanwhile we can’t hear anything, we have head phones on.”
“It’s just an unfortunate prank that people play on each other," said Judy. “I’ve heard of it, I’ve just never seen it first hand and didn’t think it would happen to us.”
Chesterfield police confirm that this was an instance of swatting, a nationwide problem where a person makes a prank call to law enforcement in order to send armed police officers to a certain address.
Andrew says someone made the disturbing prank call after finding the couple’s home address by tracing their IP Address while the couple was live streaming their game.
“They said that somebody had been murdered at our house and there were people being held hostage,” Andrew said.
The couple says they were handcuffed in their driveway by police.
At one point during their video game live stream, officers could be seen searching their home.
Swatting is a problem not just because it can tie up police resources, but also because they can become deadly. According to reports, one instance of swatting lead to the fatal shooting of a Kansas man by police.
While no one was hurt in this instance, the couple says they don't mind the police response; they just want the person responsible to get caught.
“People need to be educated on how dangerous swatting is," said Judy. "This is a real prank, it has malicious intent and people die from this.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.
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