Police say weekend gunman, hostage situation was a hoax

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 7, 2015

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Police said a report of a barricaded gunman and hostage situation inside a home on May 2 was a case of "swatting" — a serious hoax.

No one was injured when Royal Oak police and the Southeast Oakland County SWAT team responded to the 1100 block of Royal Avenue after receiving a call at 11:04 a.m. saying a barricaded gunman was holding two hostages inside the home near 13 Mile and Crooks roads. According to police, the unknown male caller said he had stabbed two women at the house and was armed with a shotgun.

Royal Oak Police Department Lt. David Clemens said that as the incident evolved, officers began to realize it might have been a “swatting” call, which is a term commonly used to describe a false report causing a significant police response.

Clemens said it became evident to officers that they most likely were dealing with a swatting incident after they determined that the homeowner at the reported address was inside the home using his computer. After about an hour, officers were able to make contact with the homeowner.

“He was just completely unaware that there was anything going on at all and, obviously, was very surprised,” Clemens said.

According to police, when they arrived on the scene, they set up a perimeter around the home and advised residents in the immediate area to stay in their basements for safety while they gathered information from the caller, who was still on the line. The annual Mind Over Matter 5K run/walk was diverted from the area.

Clemens said the department actively is investigating the identity of the subject. Police were not releasing information about the caller pending the investigation.

“False reports of this nature create a very dangerous situation for responding emergency services and the community,” Clemens said.

Clemens said the department has experienced two other swatting incidents.

“But they certainly didn’t rise to this level as far as a response,” he said.

The Royal Oak Police Department will seek criminal charges related to this case. Calling in a false report is a felony carrying a penalty of up to four years in prison, a $2,000 fine and repayment of the cost of the resources deployed to handle the incident.

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