A Cobourg family was traumatized on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 after their son was the victim of “swatting.”
Swatting is a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service into sending a police and emergency service response team to another person’s address.
The incident started shortly before 4 p.m. when police armed with long guns blocked off Hamilton Avenue and Orchard Avenue.
Cobourg Police stated in a press release there was a threat over social media indicating a male had been harmed inside a residence and the subject was threatening to harm more victims.”
A large police presence was in the area to the report and numerous other resources were in the process of being activated including activating numerous OPP resources and TRU (Tactical Response Unit).
Today’s Northumberland spoke exclusively to the owners of the residence who along with other members of the family were extremely distraught about being targeted over social media.
The drama started when the homeowner received a phone call from a neighbour on Hamilton Avenue that police were in the backyard with long guns pointing at their house on Orchard Avenue.
The couple’s eight-year-old grandson was visiting and he ran inside stating that the neighbor had told him to go inside and lock all the doors to the home.
The homeowner went out in his back yard where he saw a police officer pointing a gun in his direction.
“I asked him what was going on? And he yelled at me, “get in the house and lock the doors – get in the house and lock the doors.”
The homeowner quickly did just that, going back to his house making sure the doors were locked.
While he was talking to his wife inside, they looked out the front window and saw a police officer across the street from their residence pointing a long gun directly at the house.
Another police officer was at another property also pointing a gun at their residence.
“I put up my arms in the window and motioned “what’s going on?”
“One police officer waved and told me to come out.”
When the homeowner left the residence police said the incident was about their 17-year-old son. He said that there was a post on social media alleging that he had shot someone.
Police at the scene did a thorough investigation at the scene including going through the house to check to see if the youth was inside. Each of them were carrying a long gun.
The father phoned his son who was at a friends house. Police also spoke to the youth and stated they would be attending where he was immediately and to not leave.
“The police officer said to (my son) we’ll be over there real quick and when we get there you need to come out of the house with your hands in the air.”
The parents asked if they could follow police to the home, but police advised the father not too.
The father reiterated to his son that when police arrive to come out of the house with his hands in the air.
“Nice and high so they see that you’re all good. Answer their questions and do what they need you to do.”
Police quickly left the area, and with lights activated went through downtown Cobourg to the other address where their son was. He came out with his hands up and was told to get up against a car with his hands spread. He was patted down, placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a police cruiser. Although he observed the long guns, they were not pointed at him.
The parents did attend the house where their son was, but by that time he was released from custody.
“They realized it was a prank and let him go,” said the father.
It was at that time police informed the family about the social media post on their son’s account from a third party that indicated a shooting had taken place and there was a possibility of an active shooter situation.
Today’s Northumberland has received a copy of the social media post that is in-depth.
In part it reads, “I took my Glock .17 9 mm and sh*t him in the head. if anyone has any more guns I’d like to kill some pedophiles and racists before I’m apprehended and jail forever.”
ONLY REAL ACTIVISTS”
In the beginning when the family saw police with long guns outside their residence they initially thought it was police looking for someone who had escaped or broken into a residence.
“We had no idea it was anything to do with our house,” said the father.
Speaking to the family hours after the incident, they are still very traumatized over the incident, but want to educate the public about “swatting” and the consequences of it.
Cobourg Police were notified from a person in Tennessee who had read the social media post and contacted them.
“I understand the response,” said the mother.
“There is no question in my mind if it did happen that is the response you would expect.”
The entire family feels for the police and what they were put through during the incident, but also are in shock something like this would happen to them.
“If was very scary,” said the mother.
“For the first few minutes when we didn’t know what happened.”
“Once they asked us, I knew in my heart and in my mind that it wasn’t him and it was all a mistake – but I didn’t know whether they believed that – because they don’t know us or our son.”
The father said the incident was “terrifying.”
“Having guns pointed at our house.”
“It’s almost whoever did this was hoping my son would get hurt or something?” said the father.
Both parents agree that whoever did this should go to jail.
“Anybody that would do that is sick. Somebody could have got shot,” said the father.
The mother added, “it’s not a pizza at the door incident – it’s not a nicky nine door. It’s something pretty severe.”